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U.S. women's soccer team settles part of gender discrimination suit

Yahoo Finance’s Dan Roberts discusses U.S. Women's soccer team settling part of their gender discrimination suit.

Video Transcript

SEANA SMITH: US Soccer reaches a deal with the US Women's National Team. This is in the fight for equal working conditions. We want to bring back in Dan Roberts. He's still with us.

And Dan, we've been following this story now for almost two years, since this suit was filed. And certainly, this ruling is a step in the right direction. Yes, they got those equal working conditions, so that's a win, but still no equal pay.

DAN ROBERTS: That's right, Seana. This settlement is just for working conditions. So it does equal out between the Men's National Team and the Women's National Team, certain things like budget for travel, hotel accommodations, and staffing. And now, the, you know, parceled out funds for those are going to be equal.

And that's really just a temporary Band-Aid because the men's team collective bargaining agreement, the CBA, has already expired and is being renegotiated. The women's expires at the end of 2021. So already, we expected that a change in the working conditions, in the budgeting there, is going to be worked into those new CBAs.

But this is totally separate from the fight for equal pay. What's interesting is both sides, US Soccer, the Federation, and the players on the Women's National Team that were part of this lawsuit are calling this first settlement on working conditions a win. They're both framing this as a positive and as a win. But what the players involved in equal pay settlement are saying is that now, they can kind of move forward with an appeal, and that this helps their case for an appeal. I mean, the idea that, you know, the US Soccer had to give something on working conditions suggests that it's obvious to everyone that something has to give on equal pay. Now, the issue is that US Soccer has said that if we were to really give all that back pay that these players are asking for, it would bankrupt us because of COVID.

But the equal pay fight continues. We know that in May, the US Women's National Team did not get the ruling it wanted, and the chance to appeal was delayed. And now, in the next coming months, the players involved in that lawsuit will get the chance to appeal.

ADAM SHAPIRO: Does the USSF have any explanation as to why-- for instance, when you talked about working conditions, men played on grass, and women would more often play on artificial turf. Why wasn't everyone playing on grass, if that's what soccer players prefer?

DAN ROBERTS: Yeah, I mean, they dance around that specific question, Adam, as you'd expect. I mean, a lot of this is, you know, built-in sexism in the sports industry and beyond. But what the kind of critics of the US Women's National Team lawsuit have always said is, you know, sorry, even though the women's team is better and more successful on the field, the men's team generates more revenue. You know, they sell more merchandise. They get more eyeballs when they play on a national stage.

Some of that is true. But for the most part, it's really hard to argue that they shouldn't be paid equally, especially because here we are with the women having won two World Cups. In 2015, they won the Women's World Cup handily. The men's team in 2018 in their World Cup, they didn't qualify. So really hard to say that these women who are such mega-stars now shouldn't be paid the same in base pay in a World Cup year as the men.

SEANA SMITH: Dan, talking about some of the new management-- they have recently appointed CEO, a new president. Is the thought here that this is going to help at least rebuild some of that strained relationship that we have seen over the past couple of years between the players and the Federation?

DAN ROBERTS: I think it's really hard to say. You know, you always like to see new blood. And I'd also say that I think it's fair to zoom out right now and say that you're seeing a lot more advancement of women all across the professional sports world. And I think that's great-- you know, in coaches, in management. All that is going on, and look at-- you know, in the WNBA especially, and now with the NFL.

But new blood can only go so far in changing what is obviously kind of a strained relationship, as you said. It's very hard to reverse that norm. But if it's ever going to happen, now is the time. I mean, look at all the changes that have come in 2020 with social justice, with racial equality, and now with gender equality-- not just in C-suites, but really, I would say, in sports is where it's happening. That's the forefront. So maybe, you hope.

SEANA SMITH: All right, Dan Roberts, as always, thanks so much for breaking that down.