Former Player Hope Solo Objects To USSF Settlement



Former United States Women’s National Team goalkeeper Hope Solo objected to the settlement agreement reached between current and former players of the United States Women’s National Team (USWNT) and the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) in the players’ class action lawsuit against the USSF.


Solo cited the lack of clarity in the payout to each player as the basis for the objection. “Without knowing how much each player . . . will be paid, or when we will get paid, it’s impossible for players to determine whether or not the proposed settlement and whatever payment we each receive is fair, adequate, or reasonable,” Solo noted.


Under Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which governs class actions, prior to any settlement, a court must determine that the settlement proposal is fair, adequate, and reasonable. Thus, Solo’s statement cites the elements a judge must use when deciding whether to approve a proposal.


Settlement Agreement


The dispute between USWNT players and USSF dates back to 2016 when multiple players filed a federal wage discrimination complaint against the USSF. In February, the players reached the settlement agreement, which included USSF paying out over $24 million and was contingent on USWNT ratifying a new CBA.


In May, the USWNT and the United States Men’s National Team agreed to new CBAs with the USSF. With the new CBAs came a new standard of paying the athletes. For the first time, the teams agreed to an equal pay rate.


Under the new structure, the USWNT transitioned to a non-salary model. For USSF-controlled games against opponents ranked in the top 25 of FIFA rankings, players will receive between $8,000 and $18,000, depending on whether the game is a win, loss, or draw. For all other games, the players will receive between $8,000 and $13,000. For World Cup matches, each player automatically earns $10,000 per game, plus $14,000 for a win or $10,000 for a tie.


As a result of the new structure, the average annual payout for men’s and women’s players is expected to be $450,000.


What is Next


The court will hold a final approval hearing on December 5. Solo, either by herself or through her lawyer, is expected to appear at the hearing on behalf of her objection. The court will determine whether to approve the settlement or uphold the objection, which would send the parties back to the negotiating table. Until the court has ruled, the lawsuit will continue.


Landis Barber is an attorney at Safran Law Offices in Raleigh, North Carolina. You can connect with him via LinkedIn or via his blog offthecourtdocket.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Landisbarber.