The Juiciest Nuggets from the Brand Spanking New USWNT Lawsuit

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It’s sad when people don’t get along. US Soccer preemptively sued the USWNT. Sigh. Why? Because of this question: does a Memorandum of Understanding they’ve been using since 2013 count as a CBA? As background, USWNT changed the lawfirm that represents them, and the new attorney in town would like to tear up the MOU and negotiate more generous bonuses with the Rio Olympics in mind (probably). US soccer is pissed.

I don’t care to cast judgment on either parties. Those who want more greenbacks to stack shall seek them. Those already in possession of a stack shall fight to keep them. I do, though, realize you don’t have time (or the patience) to read a 200 plus page complaint. Thus, I present the highlights.

First and foremost, I am not an attorney offering legal advice or input or blah blah blah, I am just a prurient fan of all conflict in which dirty details become available. The first thing that stood out was that, WTF, US Soccer and the USMNT had an arbitration dispute in 2014. Very little was reported on it. However, the Player’s Association General Counsel testified at the arbitration hearing; fyi arbitration is like a super fast and private court for rich people to fight over millions (and billions).

Next, salaries. US Soccer categorizes players by three tiers and there’s a decent-sized gap among tiers. Plus, US Soccer has been supporting the NWSL, so players getting an NWSL salary plus the US salary get less US salary. Or something. Numbers confuse me.

Players on the fringes of the US soccer team (“Floaters”), like those eels who follow whales and eat whale poop, get paid meager sums. Like, $500 a week. That’s arguably less than the minimum wage FYI, but who’s counting?

Equally problematic is the difference between when a player gets injured vs. pregnant. Now, I know what your neocon mind thinks: that gal chose to [OBSCURED FOR CHILDREN'S SAKE] and it’s fair for her to get less than a hardworking bro who gets injured on a jobsite where said bro was doing manly things like eating a sandwich from a lunch pale, wearing those cool yellow hats, and catcalling (heterosexual only, mind you). Well, there are some laws about this as well, which arguably are also violated.

My favorite deets are about air travel. In case you have traveled only by unicorn or donkey, air travel is miserable. That’s why the MOU section on air travel is hysterically detailed and makes sure to preserve the player’s inalienable right to frequent flyer miles as guaranteed in the US Constitution.

While the USWNT won the airfare and miles war, they lost the battle re: food. The MOU is really unclear on whether or not there will be a USWNT chef. Damn this case-by-case nonsense, we want clarity and Gordon Ramsay!

Of course, I don’t want this to be too one-sided. US Soccer allegedly paid a $425,000 “signing bonus” after the USWNT signed the MOU.Yes, I know you can do math. Me too. $400,000 divided by, say, 23, people, is roughly $1,800 per head. Hey they could paid off that Capital One credit card! Congrats!  US Soccer also claims to have paid millions under the old MOU, but never specifies exactly how or provide exhibits to back up said claims.

Ultimately, US Soccer was terrified most that the MOU contained a “no strike provision”, and at a February 3rd meeting the USWNT negotiator refused to promise no strike.

Lastly, for the fans, every time you go to see the USWNT play, $1.20 out of every ticket you purchase goes to the players, someway, somehow. Yes, the players get an almost $2 million bonus if the win the Olympics and/or World Cup, but the bold bonus header makes it sound like that also includes a victory tour and/or games on shitty fields.

Hopefully those frequent flier miles add up to cover the difference!

(Original court filing available here. H/T to Howie and the Prof)

UPDATE/CORRECTION – The $1.6 million bonus is not per player, but for the entire playing pool. Leander at VICE has more details. Also, that one time CBA signing bonus was actually $18,000 per player, not $1,800.

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