‘Common law’ plans to level the playing field in women’s football

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The world-champion US women’s football team have turned to the courts – as well as the court of public opinion – in their fight for fair wages and working conditions. Their efforts, and those of female athletes around the world, may contain broader lessons for achieving gender equality, a topic explored in the latest episode of “Common Law,” a University Law School podcast. from Virginia.

In the episode, AVU law professor Camilo Sánchez, who heads the school’s International Human Rights Clinic, and clinical student Jolena Zabel ’21 discuss what they learned. by co-authoring a report on the topic, “Gender Discrimination in Football: Building a Toolkit Towards Gender Equity in the Beautiful Game.

Written in coordination with Dejusticia, which focuses on human rights in Colombia and the Global South, the report was published as a book in English and Spanish.

Sánchez, who also heads the school’s human rights program and the Center for International and Comparative Law, said on the show that looking at human rights through the lens of football is “a opportunity to bring the conversation about human rights into everyday life “.

Regarding the issue of equal pay for women in general, “When you have these huge disparities that affect half of the world’s population, it’s something that law and justice must be involved in,” he adds. -he.

After the U.S. women’s soccer team’s victory at the 2019 World Cup – their fourth victory since the competition began in 1991 – the players sued, arguing they were being paid unfairly compared to the 2019 World Cup. men’s team, which has never won a World Cup. They sought more than $ 66 million in damages under the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Although a judge initially rejected equal pay demands, saying women had negotiated a different type of contract than men and could no longer demand parity, the women’s team reported last month that she would appeal the decision.

However, the two sides recently reached an agreement on working conditions, so the women will now have comparable travel budgets, support staff and field conditions.

The disparities exist beyond the US women’s team, point out Sánchez and Zabel. The prize for the Women’s World Cup will be $ 60 million in 2023, while the prize for the next men’s cup, in 2022, will be $ 440 million. Female players around the world are paid much less than female players in the United States, and some even have to pay to train or use the facilities, Sánchez explains on the show.

In addition, “there is a chauvinistic culture that makes women vulnerable to many abuses, including sexual harassment and sexual abuse,” says Sánchez.

The pair also discuss the role of FIFA, the international governing body of football, and its role in applying arbitration to resolve disputes.

Zabel says she has seen signs of progress in Europe, where there has been a movement to demand to have a women’s team if there is a men’s Premier League team.

“And so we see a lot of the best American players joining clubs that you will recognize – Manchester United, things like that,” Zabel said.

Megan Rapinoe, the star of the American women’s team, owns the best-selling soccer jersey in the United States.

“I think in the long run it’s also an important tool to continue to show that people care and that there is a market,” she says. “Sport, like other things that we consume as a society for entertainment, tells us something about ourselves and our society.”

Hosted by Dean Risa Goluboff and Vice Dean Leslie Kendrick ’06, “Common Law” this season focuses on “Law and Equity”.

While the themes of the first two seasons were temporal – the first focused on “The Future of Law” and the second on “When the Law Changed the World” – this season examines a variety of legal issues through time, wondering what fairness means and examining how it interacts with the law.

“Common Law” is available on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, YouTube, Spotify, and other popular places where you can listen to podcasts. The show is produced by Emily Richardson-Lorente.

You can follow the show on CommonLawPodcast.com or Twitter at @CommonLawUVA.



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