The U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) has denied allegations of discrimination made by members of the United States women's national team (USWNT).
The governing body's formal rejection of the gender discrimination claims stems from a March 8 lawsuit filed by 28 current USWNT players with the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles under the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Allegations of "institutionalized gender discrimination" include disproportionate pay requests in comparison to the United States men's national team.
The response filed Monday by the USSF asserts that any decision "made with respect to the conduct alleged in the complaint was for legitimate business reasons and not for any discriminatory or other unlawful purpose," according to the Associated Press.
The USSF's statement adds that discrepancies in pay are not based on gender, but "differences in the aggregate revenue generated by the different teams and/or any other factor other than sex."
The women's and men's programs have separate collective bargaining agreements that determine pay structures. The agreements, which were both finalized in 2017 and run through 2021, are not available to the public.
"There is no legal basis for USSF's claim that it is anything other than a single employer operating both the men's and women's teams - who face drastically unequal conditions and pay under their shared employer," offered Molly Levinson, a spokesperson for the 28 women's national team members who filed the suit.
"The USSF cannot justify its violation of the Equal Pay Act and Title VII by pointing to the teams' separate collective bargaining agreements or any factor other than sex," Levinson added. "Even as the most decorated American soccer team in history, USSF treats the women's team as 'less-than' equal compared to their male colleagues. We look forward to a trial next year after the World Cup."
The USWNT will kick off its World Cup defense on June 11 in Reims, France, with a Group F clash against Thailand.