Jeff Kessler targets U.S. soccer over pay inequity


Attorney Jeffrey Kessler, for years a thorn in the side of the NFL, has a new target. And he may already be on track toward hitting the bull’s-eye.

Via the New York Times, Kessler is representing a group of U.S. women’s soccer players in a complaint filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission over a discrepancy in pay between the women and men who play the sport under the American flag.

“We have been quite patient over the years with the belief that the federation would do the right thing and compensate us fairly,” said co-captain Carli Lloyd in a statement issued by Kessler.

In most sports (like basketball), the difference in pay for men and women flows naturally from the differences in revenue generated by the two versions of the same game. But that’s not the case when it comes to soccer, where the U.S. women’s team is both more successful and more profitable than the men’s team.

But the men have made and continue to make more money than the women, making this a case that should be far easier for Kessler to prove than his football-related litigation.

Five years ago, Kessler crafted an extremely viable antitrust lawsuit against the NFL for the lockout that was imposed after the union decertified. The verdict, if a season had been lost due to a lockout later deemed to be illegal, would have been staggering. To get there, however, players had to be willing to sit out a full season — and not nearly enough were interested in doing that.

In this case, the women’s team can continue to play for whatever pay U.S. Soccer will give them. Then, at some point, they could end up getting a lot more to supplement the pay they should have been getting all along.

39 responses to “Jeff Kessler targets U.S. soccer over pay inequity

  1. Alex Morgan should be the highest paid American soccer player, male or female, just because she is so damn hot.

  2. A complicated issue that is not as simple as it sounds. Can’t argue that there isn’t a draw there for the women’s team. The problem is the pool of money, the earnings, from the tournaments themselves aren’t equal between men and women. Just look at the World Cup, TV revenue not even close. The Olympics, on the other hand, are a different beast, as the US Olympic Men’s team is U23 while the Women’s team is not. Certainly the women’s competition has a larger audience in that regard. But the gap isn’t enough to erase the World Cup disparity.

    Now add in that the men will be paid higher wages for their club teams than women (as their league has really suffered in the last 10 years). It’s understandable that the women want to be paid more at the national level. It’s really their only opportunity for a pay raise.

  3. More successful, yes, but more profitable? Doubtful….women’s sports simply don’t draw the same crowds and sponsors as men’s, regardless of how good the U.S. men’s team is or isn’t……

  4. key2heat
    Mar 31, 2016, 10:27 AM EDT
    Typical ambulance chasing attorneys

    Ya because arguing for women’s rights makes him an ambulance chaser. Good job letting everyone know that you have no idea what the term “ambulance chaser” means.

  5. Dude, the USWNT players deserve this money. These women are badasses! I had a chance to see an Olympic qualifying game vs Puerto Rico last month in Frisco, TX. The women won 10-0 without playing most of their starters. I hope they get their equal pay. They deserve every cent and then some.

  6. The question isn’t necessarily how much revenue the two programs create. It is how much do you need to pay the players to get them to leave their private clubs to play for the US Team? The men’s clubs pay significantly more.

    Also, the US Men’s team has a habit of granting citizenship to foreign born players to qualify them to play for the stars and stripes. If I were a “free agent” player looking to establish citizenship somewhere to play, salary might become a focus. While this isn’t unique to the men, it is much more prevalent.

    I’m sure Kessler will make a good argument, but there are mitigating factors outside of gender which will need to be considered.

  7. They have a point because the US women’s team is more popular than the men’s team but I doubt it matters unless they are paid by the same entity.

  8. Nice work.

    The discrimination against women and equal pay in this country is embarrassing.

    It’s 2016!

    If the women are better than the men with higher TV ratings, how is it they are not seeing the benefits of these facts?

    Arrest, try and convict Roger Goodell as well.

  9. “where the U.S. women’s team is both more successful and more profitable than the men’s team”

    If it is true that the US women’s team generates more money than the US men’s team then there is an argument. I have my doubts as it has been very tough sledding for the various women’s professional leagues that have tried to make it. Let alone in the rest of the world where it is all about men’s soccer.

    Would love to see this solved through the market instead of court system.

  10. This is even easier to win than that frame job put up by the NFL. The women are 100% right. They bring in revenue while the men lose money. They win World Cups while the men loose to third world countries and embarrass themselves. Pay the women!!

  11. The total sponsor revenue for the women’s world cup was (around) $17 million, the total sponsor revenue for the men’s world cup was (around) $576 million. Argument over!

  12. “where the U.S. women’s team is both more successful and more profitable than the men’s team”

    “More profitable” is an ambiguous term. Does that mean they generate more profit or a higher % of profit versus revenue than men? Just saying it’s more profitable doesn’t mean much.

    A business that generates profits of $25k on $100k total revenue could be deemed “more profitable” than a business generating a $10 billion profit on $100 billion in revenue.

  13. Report on the radio this morning said that the men’s team lost money, while the women’s team was profitable.

  14. The US Women’s team deserves more money than the Men’s team. The Men’s team is all hype every 4 years, and gets pummeled by 3rd world countries, at least the women bring us some national pride.

  15. As always, when a woman takes over a man’s job, the salary drops.

    The USWNT has earned its money. But would they be willing to strike? It’s not like they have options off the team the way the men do. Though if I were starting a women’s team, I would take the USWNT first, but if starting a men’s team I wouldn’t touch the USMNT right now.

  16. Look at all of the angry men on this blog…..

    You can make any excuse or craft any “reason” you want, but the fact of the matter is the US national teams are about equally profitable and the women are actually more successful.

    They should be paid equally. Sorry if that makes some of you tough guys feel insecure.

  17. The men’s and women’s world cup teams are paid based upon the entirety of the World Cup, it doesn’t matter how much money or who produces more in the US, it’s about who produced more overall. This isn’t a US men’s v US women’s issue, this is a men’s soccer v women’s soccer issue and Men’s soccer is vastly more profitable world wide than women’s, thus each men’s team’s cut is larger from the World Cup revenue.

  18. The women’s team only gets watched during the World Cup and they have little competition as women’s sports aren’t as developed in many countries. The men’s team gets lots of ratings during qualifying matches, Gold Cup, and friendlies.
    The women deserve to get paid more for sure….but just as much as the men? Probably not.

  19. cafetero1075 says:
    Mar 31, 2016 10:50 AM
    overall in FIFA men generate billions more than women. I still don’t believe women generate more than the men do.


    FIFA doesn’t pay the players. USSoccer does.

    Just in Prize Money alone, the women have earned more for USSoccer than the Men have. In primary endorsements, Nike’s contract is equal for both sides.

  20. Let’s be honest here. Women’s sports is somewhat like the Special Olympics or the Paralympics. The only reason that these athletes get medals and plaudits is because they are competing in a limited circle. Many superior athletes are excluded from the competition because of physical characteristics. The best athletes compete in open competition with each other, not limited by sex, age, weight, disability, or other characteristic. These sporting divisions are established simply to give inferior athletes a chance.

    This is not to diminish the skill or talent of these players. I’m sure Carli could kick my butt all over the pitch. Put her up against Lionel Messi? Different story. Serena Williams against Novak Djokovic? Yeah, right.

    Same goes for boxing and MMA – I’d like to have seen 5’8″ 150 pound Floyd Mayweather fight any of the top heavyweights. Let’s have a pro basketball league for people under 5’10”.

  21. Women’s tennis volleyball and soccer are far superior to men’s game.

    In these sports they should be paid the same.

    Women’s basketball actually owes fans money.

  22. Successful and profitable that is what I am keying in on here. Both terms are subjective. In the end the legal process is not about what is right and wrong it is a balance between how much money can i get or have to give up compared to the effort. Even innocent people pay just because it is easier then going the distance just like guilty people get off because they have the ability to play the other end. They can pay up until they get their justice. Anyway did any one see the 60 minutes story about lawyers helping non US residence hide money in the US illegally. The one lawyer hit the nail n the head when the guy ask how this could be done and said ” we run this country and we can do whatever we want” or something to that effect. So just remember this as the law suits pile up in all sports, or in this country in general , until the lawyer don’t run the country all of this will keep happening. My prediction is this will end both sides will be happy, Soccer will admit no blame and the details of the settlement will not be disclosed. translation the payout was made

  23. Kessler just another lawyer scumbag out for only himself. Lawyers need to be held accountable for what they have done to this country.

  24. The legal basis is equal pay for an equal job. If anyone considers the womens soccer team as equally competitive with the men’s team then you are living in a fantasy world. If thats the case, then lets get rid of men’s and womens teams and let them compete on an equal playing field to get equal pay. In that instance, about 1 or 2 women total would be able to play because they wouldn’t be able to maintain a spot on the roster. I have heard these arguments over and over and it just doesnt hold water. They are not equal in any way shape or form. Not sexist, just a fact.

  25. magnumpimustache says:
    Mar 31, 2016 12:01 PM
    Women’s tennis volleyball and soccer are far superior to men’s game.

    In these sports they should be paid the same.

    Women’s basketball actually owes fans money.


    Dem’s fightin’ words in Minnesota, where they measure championships in WNBA titles….

  26. let’s see if the women can keep that same intensity & desire to be better than the men – AFTER they get that raise…. that’s doubtful because now they’ll have nothing gripe about !!

  27. This is an excellent cause for Kessler. Women soccer players are underpaid across the board. A rookie going into MLS gets about $60K from the outset (to likely sit on the bench). The WMLS equivalent gets about $12K. Top players, unless they are on the national team, get less than $20K.

    This is ridiculous, no one can live on that amount without additional support. A professional athlete should make enough money to be above the poverty line.

  28. funny how nowhere in that statement did he say the women’s team generated more total revenue because as we all know, the world cup tv revenue alone is probably more then the women make all 4 years in between

  29. btw the women got 2million for their world cup win, the men got 8million for losing in the round of 16

    total revenue for teams for mens world cup- 576 million, women- 15 million

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