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US women's team soccer players are 'pioneers' in pay equity fight: former player

Katie Krzaczek
Associate Editor

The U.S. Women’s National Team dominated both on and off the soccer field this year. With a World Cup title under its belt, the team’s next challenge comes in the fight for equal pay.

Former USWNT member Kate Deines Krieger told Yahoo Finance’s YFi AM on Thursday, “They're pioneers in what they're doing, and they're really going to be an example for federations around the world in terms of fighting for equal pay.”

Since hanging up her cleats, Krieger has joined Ellevest as an adviser. The firm, co-founded by Sallie Krawcheck, is working toward breaking down the gender biases within the industry.

Krieger explained how the USWNT fight for pay equality is paving the way for women in all sports to push for fair pay.

“They are trailblazing the way, not just for women's soccer but all women's professional sports in general. So the lawsuit that's expected to potentially go to trial in May of 2020 is pivotal,” Krieger told.

In March 2019, 28 members of the 2015 USWNT team sued the U.S. Soccer Federation, claiming their compensation and treatment was not equivalent to members of the men’s team.

Jul 7, 2019; Lyon, FRANCE; United States midfielder Lindsey Horan (9) hoists the World Cup trophy and celebrates with teammates after defeating the Netherlands in the championship match of the FIFA Women's World Cup France 2019 at Stade de Lyon. Mandatory Credit: Michael Chow-USA TODAY Sports

At its heart, the lawsuit highlights a stark disparity in compensation between the men’s and women’s team. Critics have often cited lower revenues brought in by the women’s league as a way to legitimize the pay difference. However, the recent successes of the USWNT, which have attracted more fans and attention to the sport, have also come with a revenue boost.

According to financial reports from the U.S. Soccer Federation reviewed by the Wall Street Journal, USWNT games generated more total revenue than the USMNT games from 2016 through 2018: $50.8 million in revenue vs. $49.9 million for the men.

The team and the federation entered mediation over the summer, but no resolution was reached. A spokesperson for the team said they were “sorely disappointed in the federation’s determination to perpetuate fundamentally discriminatory workplace conditions and behavior.”

The gender discrimination suit got court approval in November to proceed as a class action, and is now set to go to trial in May 2020, which Krieger called “pivotal.”

“I'm holding my breath. I think the nation is sort of holding their breath, because it's gained so much traction and publicity,” she said. “They're fighting the good fight. And I'm hopeful that they're going to get the results that they want.”

Katie is an associate editor at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.

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