The CEO of one of the countrys biggest sports agencies told CNBC on Thursday that the pay gap between the mens and womens players for the U.S. national soccer teams is shameful and cannot last.
"Its an untenable position for U.S. Soccer," said Casey Wasserman on CNBCs "Squawk Box " from Sun Valley, Idaho. "They should be paid absolutely equally as the men, period. I dont know why its taking so long. I dont even know why its a conversation."
As the U.S. womens national team completed an undefeated run to its fourth World Cup title, the players continued to speak up about their lack of pay relative to the mens side.
The team sued the U.S. Soccer Federation in March, alleging gender discrimination. The lawsuit said that if the mens and womens teams both played a similar 20-game schedule of nontournament "friendlies," the women would be paid just 38% of what the men would make.
The lawsuit also alleges the federation paid the mens team roughly four times more in bonuses for the 2014 World Cup, when the men lost in the Round of 16, than it paid to the womens team for winning the 2015 World Cup. According to documents obtained by The Guardian, the current labor agreements with U.S. Soccer would pay each member of the womens team about $260,000 for winning a World Cup, compared with more than $1.1 million for each mens player.
The team and the federation agreed to mediation in the lawsuit last month, according to The Wall Street Journal.
At the parade Wednesday celebrating the most recent championship by the womens team, players led the crowd in chants of "equal pay." The mens team has never won a World Cup and failed to qualify for the most recent tournament in 2018.
"The fact that were talking about it and that they have to win a World Cup to really make it a thing is crazy. This should have been done a long time ago, and shame on U.S. Soccer for not doing more," Wasserman said.
The Wasserman agency has created a new division called The Collective, which is focused on female athletes and entertainers. The agency represents about 150 female athletes, including Megan Rapinoe, who starred for the U.S. during the World Cup, and several of her teammates.
Wasserman said he believes that the players have a bigger audience than only women and girls, adding that he has had business leaders ask him which players he represents.
"Its incredible, and I hope the world recognizes how powerful they can be," Wasserman said.
World Cup revenue for U.S. Soccer comes in part from prize money from FIFA, the organization that runs international soccer. The total prize money available in the womens tournament was $30 million, well short of the $400 million pot in the last mens tournament.
The victory in the title game over the Netherlands was the most watched soccer game in the United States since 2015 and topped the 2018 mens final by 22%. It is not clear how ratings variations affect revenue for U.S. Soccer.
The U.S. Soccer Federation did not immediately respond to a request for comment.