US Soccer Calls Player Union Bluff 09/16/2021


“We support American women! Exclaims the United States National Football Team Players Association – which, despite its name, only supports able-bodied men who play on tall turf or grass pitches.

“OK,” says the American Football Federation. “Prove it.”

Forget selfishness brief friend which recapitulates the 1990s, well before the scale of the trial of the players and more relevant for Cindy Parlow Cone the player that Cindy Parlow Cone the president of the federation, while complaining that the district court comparison of the wages of the MNT and that of the WNT “has neglected the growth of American football in the meantime” while carefully avoiding mention FIFA’s extremely uneven cash prizes. He also quotes a story on TV ratings ratings that specifies “English language”, forget the rather large Spanish-speaking public which is just starting to pay more attention to women’s football but isn’t there yet. (See Paul kennedy‘s Spanish audiences widen huge gap between recent U.S. national team ratings.)

American Football proclamation that it offers the same offer to men and women can be taken with a grain of skepticism. The equalization of the salary for friendly matches is quite simple. But how does a SheBelieves Cup win in front of an adoring crowd compare to a World Cup qualifying victory in front of a hostile Honduran crowd? How do you take into account the Olympic Games, in which the bonus of any winner is essentially what a federation can afford? (The American struggle is particularly generous, but they pay individuals, not a team.)

But the big problem, of course, is how to count the World Cup bonuses when FIFA is considering disbursing, by ESPN‘s Jeff Carlisle, $ 440 million for men in 2022 and $ 60 million for women in 2023 – and that’s an improvement. it does not take a lot of accounting to understand that the lionesses’ share of the $ 67 million American women claim to be missing is attributed to World Cup bonuses.

The message from the federation to the MNT is therefore simple. Put your money where your memory is.

We have lived through the context of the wage dispute so many times. The “equal pay” agreements in Australia and Norway give equal percentages of World Cup bonuses, which women would surely never accept. Women are asking for more money than American football projects to have in store for years to come, even if they weren’t. equally bad like initially predicted before the stock market recovers and the federation is left with no expenses such as “playing real football games”. The legal case is very difficult to win. Etc.

While all of these facts are somewhat compelling in the courts, American football has always been in bad shape in the court of public opinion. At least, publicly – the people who see the issues in the case sometimes keep a low profile.

The federation’s latest public bet could at least get a handful of people to take a closer look at what’s going on here. In particular, American men will have difficult questions to answer if they are not interested in sitting down with women and the federation to figure out how to solve the problem of prize money.

From where this comment of the general director of the association of the women Becca Roux to media: “We are interested in negotiating in good faith to get a fair deal for our players and will not let them use our fight for equality to create a wedge between women and men.”

“Create a division? ” Truly? The constant denigration of the men’s national team from all sides is not “creating a wedge”, but asking men and women to negotiate together is?

True, much of the “divide” has been exacerbated by lawyers, reported junkies and various whose interests are not necessarily the interests of football, men or women. They also don’t take a long time to understand football. Tell a defenseman that the base players make a base salary of $ 100,000 per year, and they will ask you how much the men make. Then they’re baffled when you tell them the answer is $ 0 in American football salary and try to explain the different pay structures as well as all of the things mentioned above.

To wit: a 50-page amicus brief from a team of lawyers and advocacy groups – “the National Women’s Law Center, the Women’s Sports Foundation and 63 other organizations” – only mentions the word “football” eight times, mainly with reference to the federation or “the women’s football team”. While the men’s amicus dossier cites at least a bunch of articles from football journalists, the non-football entities dossier barely notes the existence of the sport. It is as if organizations and their battalion of lawyers are simply copying a template and replacing “accounting firm” or “software company” with “football team”.

And this ignorance undermines their arguments, such as the overwhelming point that the WNT might not have needed salaries if the federation paid bonuses equal to those of the MNT, failing to mention that bonuses are only available to those who do. make the big tournament. and that the women themselves have opted for stability rather than betting their non-NWSL earnings on a World Cup match.

They are certainly not the only ones trying to use footballers as political pawns. With much fanfare, several lawmakers from both houses of Congress have introduced legislation threatening to withhold aid it doesn’t really give in the first place if the USSF doesn’t offer undefined “equal pay”. Surprise, surprise – these invoices haven’t taken a single step beyond the press releases. Bill in the old Schoolhouse Rock cartoons wouldn’t even have come out on the Capitol steps – he would be sitting in Joe manchinthe workbook.

If we are talking about labor law, let’s put all this in perspective.

Earlier this month, I was the substitute teacher in a third grade class on the day they learned the true meaning of Labor Day. They saw a video about the horrors of the past – 12-hour work days, seven-day work weeks, no job security – and gasped at what their great-grandparents had gone through. Workers fought for change themselves, often suffering physical abuse among other bullying tactics.

In this case we are talking about what the New York Times’ André Das (and I) believe we are, from everything we have found, the highest paying national teams in world football.

Frankly, that should probably change. These deals are the remnants of a time when players had little prospect of income, and they have been increased because unions argue that US Soccer owes them more because the federation has grown. At some point we may have to ask ourselves why American football teams always need a startup salary or if that money is better redirected to other teams (beach, futsal, Paralympic disciplines), training coaches, national youth teams, referees, basic grants and everything else under the responsibility of any good federation. We also need to find ways to direct more sponsors, including those who are showing great support for those at the top of the women’s football development pyramid, to the NWSL and youth academies.

But the high status of teams in the global compensation rankings is unlikely to change, even if the men end up giving up some of their bonus prospects to pool the prize money with the women.

So what were we still arguing about?

One thing that has changed over the eon that this fight has been fought is the leadership of American football. Sunil Gulati, Carlos Cordeiro, Dan Flynn, Lydia Wahlke and members of Seyfarth Shaw law firm are all gone. But the leaders of the association and the lawyers are still in place.

Maybe it’s time to start from scratch, to settle the dispute before it wears out the wallets of everyone involved, to put pressure on FIFA sponsors to put pressure on FIFA to equalize the prize money, and try to make Americans at least as good at football as they are at law and public relations. ?

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