Like many women workers throughout the United States, the soccer players on the US Women’s National Team (USWNT) have been paid less by their employer, the US Soccer Federation (USSF), than their male counterparts. In a lawsuit filed in March 2019, just days before going on to play in France and win an unprecedented fourth Women’s World Cup title, players from the USWNT filed a class action lawsuit against US Soccer, seeking to end the longstanding pay disparities and other forms of unequal treatment. For background on the equal pay and gender discrimination lawsuit see our prior blog posts:
U.S. Women’s Soccer Team Fights For Equal Pay for Equal (or Better) Play
Equal Pay for World Cup CHAMPIONS’ Play– Update
The long fight for equal pay by US women’s soccer players appears to have ended with another huge victory for the USWNT. On February 22, 2022, the USWNT and USSF jointly announced a settlement which includes a multimillion-dollar payment to the players and a promise by USSF to equalize pay between the men’s and women’s national teams.
Under the terms of the agreement, the women — a group of several dozen current and former players including Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan— will share $22 million in payments from U.S. Soccer. The bulk of that figure is back pay, a tacit admission by US Soccer that compensation for the men’s and women’s teams had been unequal for years. Another $2 million will be placed in a fund set aside for post-career goals and charitable efforts, per the settlement. Each player can apply for up to $50,000 from the fund.
But the agreement includes terms which look to be an even greater victory than the millions of dollars paid out for the unequal pay of the past: U.S. Soccer’s pledge to equalize pay between the men’s and women’s national teams in all competitions, including the World Cup, in the teams’ next collective bargaining agreements. While USSF is in contract negotiations with both the men’s and women’s teams, they appear to be working together to close the pay gap between the men’s and women’s teams.
In a joint statement from USSF and USWNT, both sides acknowledge that they “proudly stand together in a shared commitment to advancing equality in soccer,” but admit there were challenges along the way. “Getting to this day has not been easy. The U.S. Women’s National Team players have achieved unprecedented success while working to achieve equal pay for themselves and future athletes,” they added. “Today, we recognize the legacy of the past USWNT leaders who helped to make this day possible, as well as all of the women and girls who will follow. Together, we dedicate this moment to them.”
See the complete joint statement here.
For more information on the lawsuit and settlement see:
Three lessons from landmark US soccer agreement on getting equal pay in sports
The U.S. national women's soccer team wins $24 million in equal pay settlement