A federal judge in California ruled in favor of the United States Soccer Federation on most of the key points in the ongoing wage discrimination lawsuit brought by members of the U.S. women's national team player pool, dealing a substantial setback to the players in the high-profile case.
Players based the lawsuit filed last year on two grounds. First, that U.S. Soccer violated the Equal Pay Act by paying them less than members of the men's national team; and second, that the federation discriminated against them under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, specifically with regard to workplace conditions.
Judge R. Gary Klausner on Friday ruled for U.S. Soccer's motion for summary judgment with regard to the Equal Pay Act, stating in his decision that the players "have not demonstrated a triable issue that WNT players are paid less than MNT players."
Klausner ruled in favor of the federation's contention that women's players were paid more in total and on a per-game basis during the period in question.
The court also granted in part U.S. Soccer's motion for summary judgment with regard to the Title VII claims, ruling that the federation did not discriminate against players by having them play more games on artificial turf than men's players during the period in question.
The court left unsettled only the plaintiffs' Title VII claims regarding discrimination in charter flights and hotel accommodations and medical and training support.
A spokesperson for the players said they would appeal.
"We are shocked and disappointed with today's decision, but we will not give up our hard work for equal pay," said Molly Levinson, spokesperson for the plaintiffs. "We are confident in our case and steadfast in our commitment to ensuring that girls and women who play this sport will not be valued as lesser just because of their gender.
"We have learned that there are tremendous obstacles to change; we know that it takes bravery and courage and perseverance to stand up to them. We will appeal and press on. Words cannot express our gratitude to all who support us."
U.S. Soccer did not have immediate comment.