08.03.16

EQUAL PAY: Sens. Murray, Feinstein Continue Efforts to Address Gender Pay Inequality in U.S. Soccer

The U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team is ranked first in the world, has won three FIFA Women’s World Cups and four Olympic Gold Medals, but its members are paid significantly less than their male counterparts

 

In new letter, Senators request information from U.S. Soccer on pay structure and plans to “better highlight the exceptional talent and skill” of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team

 

Murray and Feinstein: “…pay disparities such as those between the men’s and women’s soccer teams send the wrong message to young women—and men—and have no place in the 21st century economy.”

 

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Ranking Member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, sent a letter to the General Counsel of the U.S. Soccer Federation requesting information on pay disparities between the men’s and women’s U.S. National Soccer Teams.

 

We believe strongly that the gender pay gap is both unacceptable and harmful to women, families, and our economy,” wrote the Senators. “We remain focused on the pressing issue of pay equity for the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team…apparent pay disparities such as those between the men’s and women’s soccer teams send the wrong message to young women—and men—and have no place in the 21st century economy.”

 

In the letter, the Senators sought clarification from U.S. Soccer about the differences in revenue generated by and for the men’s and women’s U.S. National Soccer Teams, plans to better highlight the women’s team, and requested additional information, including:

 

·         How U.S. Soccer has worked with international networks to promote women’s soccer and the Women’s Team.

·         The revenue U.S. Soccer has generated from its contracts with Soccer United Marketing (SUM) as well as other broadcast contracts over the past 8 years.

·         A breakout of the individual revenue streams within SUM over the past 8 years.

·         The value of each marketing contract (not including the broadcast rights) for the Women’s Team and Men’s Team over the past 8 years.

·         U.S. Soccer’s future plans to improve the exposure of the Women’s Team both domestically and abroad.

 

These requests follow the passage of a Senate resolution in May, authored by Senators Murray, Feinstein, and others urging U.S. Soccer to ensure the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team is fairly compensated. Senators Murray and Feinstein have consistently fought for equal pay in the workplace and on the field, in particular through the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would provide women with additional tools to identify and fight back against pay discrimination.

 

Full text of the letter is available HERE and below:

 

August 3, 2016

 

Lisa Levine

General Counsel

U.S. Soccer Federation

1801 S. Prairie Avenue

Chicago, IL 60616

 

Dear Ms. Levine,

 

Thank you for sharing more information with us about U.S. Soccer’s pay structure and the historic differences in the men’s and women’s teams compensation packages.  As you know, we believe strongly that the gender pay gap is both unacceptable and harmful to women, families, and our economy. Apparent pay disparities such as those between the men’s and women’s soccer teams send the wrong message to young women—and men—and have no place in the 21st century economy. We remain focused on the pressing issue of pay equity for the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team (Women’s Team). The Women’s Team is currently ranked first in the world and members of the Women’s Team are some of the most visible athletes worldwide. The Women’s Team has won three FIFA Women’s World Cups, four Olympic Gold Medals, and seven CONCACAF Gold Cups, making the team an inspiration and example to young athletes across the United States and worldwide. We, along with millions of women’s soccer fans, are looking forward to rooting for the Women’s Team as they compete in the summer Olympic Games in Brazil. 

 

You have indicated that the Women’s Team players earn less than Men’s National Team (Men’s Team) players in part because the Men’s Team generates greater revenue for U.S Soccer than the Women’s Team does. That is, games played by the Men’s Team have higher ticket sales than games played by the Women’s Team.  Television ratings and the marketing, broadcasting, and licensing rights associated with the Men’s Team are also more valuable to U.S. Soccer. According to your data, the Men’s Team has generated three times more revenue for U.S. Soccer than the Women’s Team since 2005.

 

We are interested in better understanding the difference in revenue generated for U.S. Soccer by the Men’s Team and by the Women’s Team given the enormous success and popularity of the Women’s Team. You have claimed that television contracts for Women’s Team games are not as lucrative. In fact, you noted that some networks, including Univision, are only interested in carrying the men’s games and prefer not to broadcast the women’s games at all. As such, you repeatedly indicated that differences in the men’s and women’s compensation are, in part, market-driven.

 

At the same time, according to U.S. Soccer’s 2016 Annual General Meeting FY17 Budget Executive Summary, the 2015 Women’s World Cup viewership on Fox networks set a record for soccer in general, not just women’s soccer, and the final match had a higher viewership than every game of the NBA Finals and every show in primetime from 2014 to 2015. We are interested in learning more about how your TV contracts and bundling are currently structured. The marketing, broadcasting, and licensing rights for U.S. Soccer have been collectively sold to Soccer United Marketing (“SUM”) since 2004. Given that the Men’s Team and Women’s Team games were sold as a bundle, the relative value placed on the Women’s Team and Men’s Team games is opaque and difficult to quantify.  Thus we are seeking your assistance in better understanding how SUM and U.S. Soccer quantify the relative value of the Men’s Team and Women’s Team given the existing pooled sales structure.

 

We are also interested in learning more about the steps U.S. Soccer takes to ensure aggressive marketing of Women’s Team games in order to capitalize on the full value of the team and to build a national and international audience for women’s soccer.  It is our understanding that SUM did not secure any marketing contracts for the She Believes Cup, a tournament between the most popular women’s soccer teams in the world played in Tampa, Nashville, and Boca Raton.

 

We ask that you provide us with the current structure of the TV contracts and bundling arrangements both internationally and domestically, and your plans to better highlight the exceptional talent and skill of the Women’s Team. Specifically, we would like to know:

 

·             How U.S. Soccer has worked with international networks to promote women’s soccer and the Women’s Team.

·             The revenue U.S. Soccer has generated from its contracts with SUM as well as other broadcast contracts over the past 8 years.

·             A breakout of the individual revenue streams within SUM over the past 8 years.

·             The value of each marketing contract (not including the broadcast rights) for the Women’s Team and Men’s Team over the past 8 years.

·             U.S. Soccer’s future plans to improve the exposure of the Women’s Team both domestically and abroad.

 

Thank you for your time and attention to this important matter.

 

Sincerely,

 

###