Updated: Mar 11, 2020
The battle between the U.S. Soccer Federation and the USWNT has all the bitterness of the nastiest divorce. Another round of public statements has been made to the press; another round of filings has taken place in court.
First, U.S. Soccer President Carlos Cordeiro put out an open letter.
Next, Molly Levinson, a spokesperson for the USWNT, responded to it.
And if we thought that would be the only fuel added this week to the burning pit in Hades that is the relationship between U.S. Soccer and the USWNT, well, the court filings have made the fire burn as if nuclear waste was dumped on top.
U.S. Soccer is saying point blank that the USMNT members should be paid more because they are men. That is it. That is the full argument.
Kim McCauley summed it up well here.
Trying to put pressure on U.S. Soccer through bad PR has not persuaded the federation to change tactics. If the leadership is past the point of basic human decency, then more extreme action must be taken.
U.S. Soccer has shown that it is willing to use this argument to try to win a case against the only internationally successful team it has, so what now? What can fans do to show they don’t agree with what the USSF is doing--without hurting the USWNT bottom line in a way that only helps U.S. Soccer’s argument?
Hit U.S. Soccer where it really hurts. In the sponsorship wallet.
Not going to games and not buying USWNT kits likely leads to U.S. Soccer saying they were right and there is no market for women’s sports. It would help prove the federation's point. (Though I would blame no one who didn’t go to games or didn’t buy from the USSF right now.)
But the sponsors? That is where the real money is for U.S. Soccer.
Ask the presenting partner - Volkswagen - if it condones what U.S. Soccer is doing via social media or in email form. Ask Allstate if it agrees that the USMNT should be paid more via U.S. Soccer’s arguments or ask Continental Tire or Cutter or Powerade the same question.
Emailing, tweeting to these brands, boycotting them and letting them know why might be the only hope supporters of the USWNT, and just decent people, have to make an impact in this case. There isn’t a way to hurt U.S. Soccer directly without also hurting the USWNT unless you go after those who give U.S. Soccer money. The USSF has shown a disturbing lack of concern about the arguments it is using against the legal challenge the USWNT has brought. The federation is willing to napalm the already burning fire that is its relationship with the USWNT without thinking about how this will affect the team it is charged to support or the - very vocal - fan base that supports the team.
U.S. Soccer has shown time and time again that money is all it really cares about. It’s time to hit them where it hurts the most, the bottom line.