The US Women's national team won a key court ruling Friday in its equal pay lawsuit against the US Soccer Federation when a California court granted class certification to players.
The US District Court decision by judge Gary Klausner allows the group to sue together rather than each player having to file her own lawsuit and any victory for one would be granted to all.
The ruling said it was proper to consider the suit a class action since all sought the same relief and raised the same issues regarding inferior pay and other compensation compared to their less successful male counterparts.
The US women won their second consecutive Women's World Cup title earlier this year in France. The American men failed to qualify for last year's World Cup in Russia.
The ruling also dismissed USSF arguments that players were not injured because some made more money than male counterparts, the court finding it was the rate of compensation rather than total compensation that mattered.
"The failure to provide the WNT with equal working conditions is a real (not abstract) injury which affects each plaintiff in a personal and individual way," the ruling said. "Plaintiffs have also offered sufficient proof of this injury. Indeed, plaintiffs have submitted declarations establishing that WNT players were subject to discriminatory working conditions."
The court also found the players had cited sufficient proof of such other unequal working condition issues as fewer charter flights, lower ticket prices, fewer promotional resources and inferior playing surfaces compared to the US men's national team.
Molly Levinson, a spokeswoman for the players, called the finding "a historic step forward in the struggle to achieve equal pay."
"We're so pleased that the court has recognized USSF's ongoing discrimination against women players -– rejecting USSF's tired arguments that women must work twice as hard and accept lesser working conditions to get paid the same as men."
Levinson renewed the players' call to USSF president Carlos Cordeiro, a 63-year-old India-born American, to provide a new groundbreaking deal for the American women's team.
"We are calling on Carlos Cordeiro to lead USSF and demand an end to the unlawful discrimination against women now."
The US women's efforts led to a chant of "Equal Pay" in the stadium in France after their victory in the final in July.