Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd, Megan Rapinoe, Becky Sauerbrunn and Hope Solo, five members of the World Cup champion women's soccer team, accused the United States Soccer Federation of wage discrimination in a formal complaint Thursday.
Union attorney Jeffrey Kessler, who was central in labor negotiations and legal issues between the NFL and its players, is representing the women. Goalie Hope Solo said members of the team are earning nearly four times less than their male counterparts on the U.S. men's national team.
"The numbers speak for themselves," Solo said in a statement. "We are the best in the world, have three World Cup Championships, four Olympic Championships, and the USMNT get paid more just to show up than we get paid to win major championships."
U.S. Soccer and its players union are currently entangled in another dispute regarding the precise terms of the existing collective bargaining agreement. The union believes the deal reached March 2013 can be terminated at any time, but USS claims the agreement spans the entire 2016 calendar year.
U.S. Soccer responded with a brief statement and said it had not seen the action filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
"We have been a world leader in women's soccer and are proud of the commitment we have made to building the women's game in the United States over the past 30 years."
Kessler said the hard facts are on the side of the players.
"The reality is that this team is more valuable to the USSF than the men's team has been. That's what the facts show," Kessler said on a conference call to discuss the matter. "And they would be justified in asking for more than the men are receiving. But the first step that they are seeking is equal treatment. That should be an easy step for the USSF to take."