Los Angeles: A federal judge dismissed the United States women's soccer team's bid for equal pay on Friday, rejecting claims the players had been underpaid in a crushing defeat for the reigning world champions.
In a 32-page ruling, Judge Gary Klausner of the US District Court for Central California in Los Angeles tossed the women's claim of pay discrimination, ruling in favour of the United States Soccer Federation.
Klausner did allow the women's case for unfair treatment in areas such as travel, housing and medical support to proceed to trial, set for June 16 in Los Angeles.
But the judge said the equal pay claims — the central plank of the case — had been dismissed because there was evidence the women had turned down an offer to be paid along the lines of the US men's team.
"The history of negotiations between the parties demonstrates that the WNT rejected an offer to be paid under the same pay-to-play structure as the MNT, and the WNT was willing to forgo higher bonuses for benefits, such as greater base compensation and the guarantee of a higher number of contracted players," Klausner wrote.
"Accordingly, plaintiffs cannot now retroactively deem their CBA (collective bargaining agreement) worse than the MNT CBA by reference to what they would have made had they been paid under the MNT's pay-to-play terms structure when they themselves rejected such a structure," he said.
The US women, who clinched back-to-back World Cup wins with victory at last year's finals in France, had based their claim for back pay in the disparities between prize money distributed by FIFA at the men's and women's World Cups.
Germany's men won $35 million for their victory in the 2014 World Cup while France earned $38 million after triumphing in Russia in 2018.
The United States women, victors in the 2015 and 2019 World Cups, earned total prize money of $6 million over the two tournaments.