The HBO Max documentary LFG chronicles the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team’s fight for equal pay with the men’s team. But Team USA captain Becky Sauerbrunn and directors Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine appeared on a panel for the film at Deadline’s Contenders Film: Documentary awards-season event and said equal pay is about more than just money.
“Ultimately how you’re paid is how you’re valued,” Nix Fine said. “It’s about respect and control in a way of how you perform your best in a workplace, on the soccer field, as an individual, across the table in any kind of discussion.”
Sauerbrunn said the team feels they are fighting for future generations of the women’s national team. They do not expect change to come while they are still playing.
“We’re not going to benefit from it and that’s OK,” Sauerbrunn said. “That’s kind of what it’s like to be a woman fighting for equality these days. It’s usually for the generations hopefully after you.”
LFG documents the U.S. Women’s National Team filing a class-action gender-discrimination lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation. In the film, the federation claims its hamstrung by international soccer organization FIFA’s set rates. Nix Fine calls their claim misleading.
“Yes, FIFA pays the soccer federation, but the soccer federation decides what to do with that money once they have it,” Nix Fine said. “As [player] Megan [Rapinoe] says [in the film], discrimination happened when the women were never offered the same deal dollar for dollar.”
Sauerbrunn also says FIFA could have done more to help the women’s team.
“I also will go back to FIFA and what investments you’re making into the women’s game, into the women’s tournament,” Sauerbrunn said. “Are you willing to put the investment in early so you can see the return later on? I don’t think FIFA has been willing to do that.”
Fine pointed out that the U.S. women’s team has a better record than the U.S. men’s team. Yet, they have to win more just to come close to their counterparts’ earnings.
“They should earn more because they win more and they play more tournaments that they win,” Fine said of the women, who have won four World Cups and four Olympic gold medals since 1991. “They’re champions and World Cup champions so of course they should make more and they should make a lot more than they make.”
Nix Fine said to the men’s team’s credit, their players have also joined the women in support of their fight for equal pay, and filed an amicus brief in support of the lawsuit.
“The men’s team stepped up in favor and support of the women’s right to be compensated this way,” Nix Fine said. “So I think that’s very interesting in and of itself. Look who’s getting behind this. It’s time.”
LFG premiered June 24 on HBO Max.
Check out the panel video above.