O'Reilly: U.S. Soccer Should Lead Push For Equal Pay

It's time to level the playing field, former USWNT midfielder Heather O'Reilly says

Ferrall On The Bench
May 22, 2019 - 8:27 am
Heather O'Reilly USWNT

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As the U.S. Women’s National Team prepares for the World Cup in France, it has another battle on its hands: a lawsuit filed against U.S. Soccer alleging institutionalized gender discrimination. 

The lawsuit argues that women have not received equal treatment regarding pay, playing schedule, training frequency, medical treatment, coaching, and travel.

“Somebody needs to break the cycle, somebody needs to be the leader, and we think that U.S. Soccer and America should be that person and be that leader that says, ‘Enough,’” former USWNT midfielder Heather O’Reilly said on After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “The men, quite frankly, had a 100-year start, so of course they’re going to be advanced in certain ways. Let’s equal the playing field. We feel we have an opportunity to do that.”

According to the lawsuit, members of the women’s team are being paid far less than members of the men’s team – receiving just 38 percent in some cases. The USWNT, however, has generated more revenue for U.S. Soccer in recent years.

“We’re not greedy athletes that are making (hundreds of millions) of dollars,” O’Reilly said. “We are doing this for the good of the game and our love of the game, but at the end of the day, you can only say that so far before you say, ‘Wait a minute. This actually isn’t fair.’”

The U.S. Women have won three of the last seven World Cups and are the defending champions. They finished runner-up in 2011 and third in 1995, 2003 and 2007. They’ve also won four Olympic gold medals since 1996.

“I think the team has and will always get the public’s attention because we do things the right way,” O’Reilly said. “We never let it affect our performance on the field. We are always going to be competing for championships. We have a very high standard for the women’s national team, and our standard is win or bust, basically, and not a lot of other countries feel comfortable saying that because that’s an incredibly high standard. But it’s one that’s always been set for us, and it’s one that I hope will always be the standard going forward. People want to root for us because I think we are relatable people. We’re hard-working and get it done on the field, and they know we have the best interest of the sport at heart.”

Click below to listen to O’Reilly’s interview in its entirety.