U.S. Women’s Soccer Team Awarded $24 Million in Landmark Equal Pay Case
The U.S. women’s national soccer team (USWNT) will finally receive equal pay with the men’s team, reaching a $24 million settlement with the United States Soccer Federation after a lengthy unequal pay lawsuit. In a joint statement, the Federation (also known as U.S. Soccer) and the U.S. women’s team said: “We are pleased to announce that, contingent on the negotiation of a new collective bargaining agreement, we will have resolved our longstanding dispute over equal pay and proudly stand together in a shared commitment to advancing equality in soccer.”
U.S. Soccer, the official governing body of soccer in the U.S., has committed to equal pay across the men’s and women’s soccer teams across all competitions, the FIFA Women’s World Cup included. According to CBS Sports, $22 million will be distributed among the 28 women’s soccer players currently on the team roster, and $2 million will be put towards achieving “post-career goals and charitable efforts related to women’s and girls’ soccer.”
Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan, who co-captained the team during their World Cup victory in 2019 along with teammate Carli Lloyd, appeared on CBS Mornings and Good Morning America on Tuesday to discuss the news. Rapinoe and Morgan were also joined by U.S. Soccer President Cindy Parlow Cone. “I think we’re going to look back on this day and say this is the moment that U.S. Soccer changed for the better,” Rapinoe said on Good Morning America. “We can move forward in making soccer the best sport we possibly can in this country and setting up the next generation so much better than we ever had it.” Rapinoe also took to Twitter to share her excitement, with many of her teammates joining in:
USWNT’s fight for equal pay has been six years in the making. In March 2016, five team members—Rapinoe, Morgan, Lloyd, Hope Solo, and Becky Sauerbrunn—filed a federal equal pay complaint, citing the fact that they were paid thousands of dollars less than the men’s players. For example, each player in the women’s team could earn $75,000 in bonuses for winning the World Cup, while players in the men’s team could each earn $400,000, according to The Wall Street Journal. In March 2019, all 28 squad members filed a gender discrimination lawsuit, claiming they had been consistently paid less than the U.S. men’s team over the years (despite the men’s team having significantly less success in the sport). And fans joined the fight. ESPN reported that when the team won the 2019 World Cup in France, loud chants of “Equal pay!” rippled through the crowd. Despite their advocacy for fair pay, a lower court dismissed the claims in May 2020 on the basis of contractual differences, according to the Associated Press. The following year, several players appealed, saying that the judge overseeing the case failed to examine pay rates and the number of times the women’s team needed to be victorious in order to be awarded bonus pay.
The U.S. women’s soccer team is by far the most successful in international women’s soccer. The team has won the Women’s World Cup a total of four times since the competition began in 1991 and has also won four Olympic gold medals. Their huge international success means this landmark settlement will hopefully have ripple effects for equal pay in women’s sports more broadly. “This is just such a monumental step forward in feeling valued, feeling respected, and just mending our relationship with U.S. Soccer that’s really been full of tension,” said Morgan on Good Morning America. “It’s great to take that step forward. I not only see this as a win for our team or women in sport but for women in general.”
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