U.S. Soccer is seeking the disclosure of all soccer-related income over the past five and a half years from the 28 players in the women's national team player pool who filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the federation earlier this year.
Lawyers for the federation filed the motion for disclosure Monday, the same day U.S. Soccer held a press conference to introduce Vlatko Andonovski as the new coach of the women's national team.
U.S. Soccer argues that the disclosures, which would cover income from corporate sponsorships and professional teams outside the United States, are relevant to the lawsuit. The motion contends that the two most recent collective bargaining agreements under which the women's national team operated (the men's and women's teams are represented by separate unions and separate collective bargaining agreements) were influenced by that income.
"[The income] forms part of the overall context in which the parties have bargained and in which they decided to make the various trade-offs they have made, involving compensation and other items," the motion states. "It also helps demonstrate the overall value of the [current CBA] for plaintiffs."
U.S. Soccer suggests that the disclosure of all soccer-related income could, for instance, confirm that players on the open market would not match the NWSL salaries that are paid by the federation, in addition to their national team salaries. The federation even left the impression that a league that just completed its seventh season would be imperiled without that support.
"Without U.S. Soccer's agreement to pay the salaries of its marquee players," the motion stated, "U.S. Soccer doubts the ability of the NWSL to pay them equivalent (if any) salaries or, indeed, to survive as a league at all. U.S. Soccer has been pleased to provide this support, however, as part of its mission to grow the sport of soccer."
The plaintiffs have argued throughout the process that the NWSL salaries are irrelevant in a dispute about whether the federation pays members of the men's and women's national teams equally for their work when employed by those teams. They reiterated that stance Monday.
"Against this lack of relevance, the court must then weight the burdens and invasion of personal privacy which this discovery would impose on each of the 28 individual plaintiffs," the response stated. "USSF's request would require the individual plaintiffs to pore through countless documents and financial records relating to promotional appearances and sponsorships that each may have arranged separate and apart from their employment with USSF, as well as produce their highly private individual tax documents ..."