Athletics / The Nation and the World

U.S. Women’s Soccer levels the “paying” field

On Tuesday morning, The U.S. Soccer Federation released a joint statement with the U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT) announcing a settlement agreement of $24 million, thus ending their equal pay dispute. Now, the two “are proudly standing together in a shared commitment to advancing equality in soccer.” 

In March 2019, the USWNT filed a class-action lawsuit against U.S. Soccer for gender discrimination. However, the mistreatment of female athletes had been contested for years before they took legal action. Given that the USWNT is more successful than the U.S. Men’s Team, many could not comprehend the wage gap between male and female players, finding it rooted in sexism and misogyny. 

Before the settlement, USWNT members earned $4,950 per game, while their male counterparts received nearly three times that amount ($13,166). Additionally, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) awarded $30 million to the winner of the women’s World Cup in 2019, but $400 million to the men’s team in 2018. Since the lawsuit was against U.S. Soccer, not FIFA, it could not address inequitable prize funds. However, it did call on U.S. Soccer to equalize their World Cup bonuses.

The lawsuit consisted of 28 plaintiffs—all members of the USWNT—who will now share $22 million in back pay of the $24 million settlement. The remaining $2 million will become part of a fund to assist players with their post-career goals and efforts related to women’s/girl’s soccer. With this figure, U.S. Soccer admits to disparities in the payment of male versus female athletes. 

Going forward, U.S. Soccer pledged to ensure equal pay for all players, regardless of gender. This guarantee applies to all competitions, including the World Cup. 

Two leaders of the suit and former co-captains of the USWNT, Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe, discussed the settlement alongside U.S. Soccer president Cindy Parlow Cone on CBS Mornings. “It’s a little bit surreal,” said Rapinoe, who thinks “the justice comes in the next generation never having to go through what we went through.” Morgan added, “It is a huge win for us, for women’s sports, for women in general, and it’s a moment that we can all celebrate right now.”

Wage disparities are nothing new, nor are they confined simply to soccer. This specific situation is part of a larger movement for gender equality and has gained sympathy outside of the sports community. Over the years, politicians, activists, companies, foreign countries, and others have demonstrated their support for the USWNT. Following the news of the settlement, President Joe Biden congratulated the team on Twitter, citing the outcome as “a long overdue victory in the fight for equal pay.” 

Image Source: Vox

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