US Court approves $24 million settlement in football equal pay dispute

A California federal district court has approved a $24 million settlement relating to a pay equity class action between the US women’s soccer team and the sport’s national governing body. 

The final approval effectively brings to an end the long-running lawsuit filed by 28 US women’s national soccer team players. 

They had claimed the US Soccer Federation paid women substantially less than the players on the men’s team despite their greater success on the field. A judge had granted preliminary approval of the settlement in August.

The court still will consider whether the team’s lawyers’ $6.6 million share of the settlement is too large.

The US women’s national soccer team’s battle for equal pay began in 2016, when multiple players filed a case with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against the U.S. Soccer Federation over wage discrimination and unequal working conditions.

Their lawsuit alleged that US female soccer players were paid less than male players despite superior performance on the field. For example, the women’s team was paid nearly $2 million in bonuses after winning the World Cup in 2015, while the men’s team was awarded more than $5 million despite being eliminated in their tournament, the lawsuit claimed.

In May, the US Soccer Federation announced that it has reached a deal to pay the US Men’s National Team and the US Women’s National Team equally.

The new collective bargaining agreements will run through 2028 and include the “equalisation” of World Cup prize money.

At the time, Becky Sauerbrunn, a player on the women’s team and president of the United States Women’s National Team Players Association, said achieving equal pay was the result of gains players had made both on and off the field.

“We hope that this Agreement and its historic achievements in not only providing for equal pay but also in improving the training and playing environment for national team players will similarly serve as the foundation for continued growth of women’s soccer both in the United States and abroad,” she said.