US Soccer hires two DC lobbying firms amid equal-pay fight against women's soccer team: report
The U.S. Soccer Federation reportedly hired two Washington lobbyists to argue the World Cup-winning women’s national team isn’t underpaid amid a gender discrimination lawsuit.
The U.S. women’s team filed a gender discrimination lawsuit in March, alleging that “female players have been consistently paid less than their male counterparts.”
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The U.S. Soccer Federation recently released a fact sheet arguing the organization paid out $34.1 million in salary and game bonuses to the women between 2010 and 2018 compared to $26.4 million paid to the men during the same time. The figure didn’t include the value of benefits received only by women.
Politico reported Wednesday the group has hired two D.C. lobbying firms – FBB Federal Relations and Van Ness Feldman – to help argue to lawmakers that the women’s claims of unfair pay are untrue.
“Due to the large number of requests we’ve received from policymakers since the Women’s World Cup, we are taking the proper steps to make sure that those leaders have accurate information and factual numbers that will inform them about the unmatched support and investment the U.S. Soccer Federation has provided as a leader in women’s football across the world,” U.S. Soccer spokesman Neil Buethe told Politico in a statement.
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Molly Levinson, a spokeswoman for the women’s team, told Politico the team was “stunned” and “disappointed” the federation “would spend sponsor dollars and revenue to advocate against laws that ensure that women are paid equally to men.”
The men’s national team also described the report as “disappointing but not surprising.”
According to Politico, the lobbyists created a presentation showing the benefits the women’s team receives which the men do not – including guaranteed salary, maternity leave, a nanny subsidy, health benefits, a retirement package, and protection should the players get injured.
Levinson slammed the presentation as “inflated and cherry-picked numbers.”
Beuthe told Politico that the lobbyists the organization hired were only trying to provide accurate information about how both teams get paid and the benefits they receive.
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According to the political magazine, neither lobbying firm has registered to lobby for U.S. Soccer and must do so upon 45 days of being hired.