Andy Scholes walks through US Soccer’s landmark equal pay deal with MLS in the US.
The MLS Players Union was created in April 1997 when the USSF agreed to let Major League Soccer (MLS) compete for the national teams of the United States by awarding its players equal pay with its league rivals.
The deal was originally done at a cost of $1.85 million up front, but as part of the league’s $250 million investment in its players last year, the league is now paying an equal amount to all its players in addition to the $1.85 million.
The players’ union is suing in US federal court to try to have back pay returned by MLS.
The Equal Pay Act is a law passed by the US Congress in 1963. Equal pay laws prohibit discrimination based on the sex of the worker. The goal is to eliminate economic inequality.
The suit by the union says MLS is guilty of sex discrimination and violation of the Equal Pay Act. “As a result of illegal discrimination by league officials, United States citizens had to pay more, or suffer more, for the same labor,” it says
The league denies that its equal pay policy violates the law.
“The players are entitled to be treated as equals,” said a league statement. “We are also committed to continuing to increase the quality and quantity of our players.
“It is simply ridiculous to suggest that our men’s team simply couldn’t play at the same competitive level as the women’s team on merit alone,” MLS added, arguing that the average number of games played by the men’s team was nearly three times that of the women’s team.
It’s unclear how much legal fees the USSF paid to help with its legal arguments against the players union, but in the past the USSF has had to pay for legal costs when the union has sued over its work on the league.
The league says the only legal questions about the salary structure of the league’s players is whether the $1.85 million figure for the season was too low or whether the league owes back pay to the men’s team.