U.S. Soccer continues to clash with USWNT after new equal pay documentary airs

U.S. Soccer and the United States women's national team continued to clash on Thursday after the governing body accused a lawyer working for the squad in their equal pay lawsuit of showing "a concerning level of dishonesty" presenting "a misleading and inaccurate account of the facts" in a new documentary about the team's legal battle.

In a thread of 17 messages posted on Twitter, U.S. Soccer refuted a number of the claims made by lawyer Jeffrey Kessler in HBO's new documentary "LFG."

"In the new movie 'LFG,' there is a concerning level of dishonesty about U.S. Soccer and the USWNT's compensation that we feel must be addressed," the first Tweet said.

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"Specifically, lawyer Jeffrey Kessler presents a misleading and inaccurate account of the facts."

The documentary, which was released on Thursday, tells the story of the USWNT's equal pay lawsuit primarily through the eyes of their legal team as well as players Becky Sauerbrunn, Megan Rapinoe, Jessica McDonald, Kelley O'Hara and Sam Mewis.

"The USSF, regrettably, continues to try to rewrite the past, making up a narrative that it has offered an equal rate of pay to the world champion women players, but it has not," Kessler said in a statement when contacted by ESPN on Friday.

"It lashes out at the women players and me in a juvenile Twitter storm because it knows the truth -- and so does the rest of the world."

Speaking following the release of the documentary, Rapinoe said she would always be surprised by how the summary judgement went against them.

"I just will never not be shocked by the summary judgment," Rapinoe told People. "I'll never not be shocked by the things that they say. I'll never not be shocked by the positions that they've taken.

"It always hurts really to have, you know, not just anybody say that about you, but to have someone who sees you so up close all the time and understands all the work that you put in."

The USSF declined to take part in the documentary, with The Washington Post reporting that the USSF said it was approached late in the production and wasn't provided with enough information about the project.

The Twitter thread, released by the Federation, reiterates many of the arguments they made in their legal case.

"Kessler claims that 'merely for showing up and playing a game, the men get more per game than the women.' The facts: The men's and women's teams are represented by different unions and knowingly requested, and agreed to, different compensation models," USSF said.

"The USWNTPA [USWNT Players Association] asked for, and agreed to, a contract that provides a guaranteed salary of $100k and benefits, plus a bonus for matches. The men's contract is pay-for-play -- meaning they only get paid when they play. No guaranteed salary. No benefits.

"Are the bonuses smaller than the USMNT game bonuses? Yes, [because] the USWNTPA negotiated for a $100k salary and benefits. Kessler conveniently leaves out those two things and only compares bonuses. He also fails to mention the $90k+ salary U.S. Soccer pays for playing in the NWSL.

"This structure was preferred by the USWNT, as it ensures security and stability. If a player gets hurt on Jan. 2, she still gets paid her full salary (and NWSL salary). During COVID when there were no games USWNT still got paid every two [weeks and] benefits. USMNT got paid $0.

"While negotiating their last agreement signed in 2017, the USWNTPA turned down a pay-to-play structure, the exact same way the men's team is paid."

The USSF also refuted claims in the documentary about hotel accommodations, airplane travel, revenue generation, TV ratings and World Cup prize money.

"Our USWNT and USMNT are among the highest paid in the world, with the USWNT making more than almost every men's national team globally. We're confident that, working together, we can reach an agreement that benefits everyone moving forward," USSF added.

"We remain committed to building on the success of our teams and continuing to grow soccer here in the U.S. at every level of the game."

A federal judge granted a partial deal between the USWNT and the USSF in April over unequal working conditions.

This allowed the squad to appeal a decision in May 2020 which saw the equal pay portion of their lawsuit, originally filed in March 2019, thrown out.

USSF president Cindy Parlow Cone said on June 15 that asking the federation "to make up the difference in FIFA prize money [one of the key requests in the USWNT's lawsuit] is untenable, and would likely bankrupt" them.