AMHERST, NY (WKBW) — Soccer fans are pumped up as the FIFA Women's World Cup opens in France Friday, but as the U.S. Women's National soccer team heads into the global competition, a fight is happening off the field for equal pay.
This spring 28-members of women's team filed a federal lawsuit that accuses U.S. Soccer of "gender discrimination". The suit says women players are paid less than their male counterparts.
Amherst High School freshman Sara Feger loves to play soccer. But she's no fan of the gap in pay that exists between men who play at the pro level and women.
"I don't really think it's fair because obviously they're working just as hard as the men who are playing soccer are," Feger said.
In the national women's soccer league, the average player earns more $37,000 a year. But compare to the median pay for men in major league soccer who earn $100,000.
Local attorney Lisa Coppola is intrigued by the lawsuit filed by the U.S. women's team. She points out, the women players had previously negotiated their own pay, which could make it a tough case.
"I think that the parties and the judge will have to do in these cases is dig down deeply and see - where do all those facts lie, and so, on the surface-of course it looks like there's unfair or discriminator pay differentials - the facts may or may bear that out ultimately," Coppola explained.
For young women soccer players they hope this equal pay fight is a success. Freshman Ryan Hesch also plays soccer at Amherst High.
"Yeah that would make me happy – because even if i don't go into a sport as a profession, maybe someone I know will and they deserve equal pay," replied Hesch.
But it's not just here on the sports field where they're fighting for equal pay, it's been going on for decades women. On average women are earning 80 cents to a dollar a man is making. women of color make even less then what men earn, 65 cents to every dollar.
So if the women's soccer team scores a victory in court, it would be a big win for all women.
"We all hope the women win big and we know, interestingly enough - that women's soccer has been one of the most watched sports event on U.S. television," Coppola remarked.