Football: US women file lawsuit over 'institutionalised gender discrimination'

US women's footballers celebrate
US women's footballers celebrate their 2015 World Cup triumph. Photo credit: Reuters.

Members of the US women's football team have celebrated International Women's Day by filing a gender discrimination lawsuit against their bosses over pay equity and working conditions.

The American women will defend their world title in France later this year, but they're waging an ongoing battle against US Soccer over "institutionalised gender discrimination", which they say has existed for years.

Twenty-eight members of the team, including stars Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe and Carli Lloyd, claim their work conditions - payments, playing and training conditions, medical treatment and coaching - have been vastly inferior to their male counterparts.

They claim they are required to play more games, win more, but earn less than the men.

At the same time, the US women have been among the best-performed women's sports teams on the planet. Over the past three decades, they've won three World Cup crowns and four Olympic gold medals.

"I think to be on this team is to understand these issues," Rapinoe told the New York Times.

"I think we've always - dating back to forever - been a team that stood up for itself and fought hard for what it felt it deserved and tried to leave the game in a better place."

They have already won many battles along the way. FIFA has doubled the prizemoney for this year's Women's World Cup, after US complaints that it was far less the men.

They haven't played on artificial turf in two years and now fly to matches on chartered flights.

And they've sparked similar movements around the world, with the Norwegian women's team demanding and winning equal pay with the male counterparts.

New Zealand achieved parity in the collective bargaining agreement, covering All Whites and Football Ferns, signed last May.

"We very much believe it is our responsibility, not only for our team and for future US players, but for players around the world - and frankly women all around the world - to feel like they have an ally in standing up for themselves," said Rapinoe.


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