Biden backs US women after equal pay dispute

NEW YORK • Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has voiced his support for the United States women's football team, a day after they suffered a setback in their gender discrimination lawsuit against the US Soccer Federation (USSF).

The team's claims for equal pay were dismissed by a court last Friday, handing a victory to the country's governing body for the sport.

"Don't give up this fight. This is not over yet," tweeted Biden, who was the Vice-President under Barack Obama's administration from 2009 to 2017 and is looking to unseat incumbent Republican Donald Trump in November's presidential election. "(To USSF) Equal pay, now. Or else when I'm president, you can go elsewhere for World Cup funding."

The record four-time World Cup champions' long-running feud with their federation has been a very public and bitter battle.

The players had been seeking US$66 million (S$93.5 million) in damages under the Equal Pay Act, claiming they were underpaid compared to their male counterparts despite enjoying far greater success. The men have only lifted the regional Gold Cup.

But Judge Robert Gary Klausner threw out their case. although the court allowed complaints of unfair medical, travel and training to proceed to trial, which is scheduled to begin on June 16.

In its summary judgment, it said: "The WNT (women's national team) has been paid more on both a cumulative and an average per-game basis than the MNT (men's national team) over the class period."

The players have since said they plan to appeal against the decision, and 12-time Grand Slam singles winner Billie Jean King, who famously battled for equal pay in tennis, offered words of encouragement to the team on Saturday.

"This is a setback, but it is not the end of the fight," she tweeted. "The pursuit of equality is a marathon not a sprint, and this lawsuit has generated a meaningful conversation about the treatment of women in sports. One ruling does not diminish its impact."

Carlos Cordeiro resigned as USSF president in March over words used in a court filing suggesting that women possessed less ability than men when it came to the sport.

The language prompted an on-field protest by players, who wore their warm-up jerseys inside out to obscure the federation's logo before beating Japan 3-1 en route to landing their third SheBelieves Cup that same month.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 04, 2020, with the headline 'Biden backs US women after equal pay dispute'. Print Edition | Subscribe