With the FIFA Women’s World Cup (WWC) just completed in France last Sunday, the USWNT, once again, showed football fans all over the globe that it still reigns supreme, well ahead of its rivals.
However, one place where the world champions don’t seem to be appreciated is in their own native land – the U.S of A – as the nation’s superstars prepare for what could be their toughest battle yet.
The USWNT is demanding pay terms equal to that of their counterparts on the USMNT. The good news for Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan and their comrades is that they are no longer alone in this fight. Whether just swept up in the snowballing media coverage of the WWC or genuinely looking to support their cause, the USWNT now has more fans from the celebrity world and political arena than ever before.
Snoop Dogg, Billie Jean King, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Aaron Rodgers, Hilary Clinton, Natalie Portman, Serena Williams, Jamie Lee Curtis, Elizabeth Banks, Jessica Chastain – this list goes on and on. They are just some of the people who have publicly backed the USWNT in their equal pay dispute. In fact, the crowd in attendance to witness the USA’s victory over the Netherlands in the WWC final on Sunday were heard chanting “Equal Pay!” during the team’s celebrations after the game.
Back in March, as reported by CNN, the women’s team sued the U.S. Soccer Federation for allegedly discriminating by paying the women less than members of the men’s national team “for substantially equal work and by denying them at least equal playing, training, and travel conditions; equal promotion of their games; equal support and development for their games; and other terms and conditions of employment equal to the MNT.”
In June, it was agreed that mediation would take place between the USWNT and the U.S. Soccer Federation shortly after the WWC was over. But far more pressure is being put on U.S. Soccer now after the USWNT won its second successive WWC trophy.
Senator Joe Manchin III from West Virginia introduced a bill earlier this week which could see federal funds withheld from the United States’ preparations to host the 2026 World Cup (WC) finals (men’s). These funds would not be made available for the 2026 WC until equal pay was granted to the USWNT.
Manchin was motivated to take action after receiving a letter from the Head Coach of Women’s Soccer at West Virginia University, Nikki Izzo-Brown.
As he introduced the bill, Manchin also released the following statement on the matter:
“I received a letter from Coach Izzo-Brown highlighting her worries that women on the WVU Women’s Soccer Team could one day make the U.S. women’s team and not get paid the same as the men’s team. That’s just plain wrong.
“That’s why I’m introducing legislation that will require the U.S. Soccer Federation to pay the men’s and women’s national soccer teams equitably before any federal funds may be used for the 2026 World Cup. The clear unequitable pay between the U.S. men’s and women’s soccer teams is unacceptable and I’m glad the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team latest victory is causing public outcry. They are the best in the world and deserve to be paid accordingly. I’m encouraging everyone to call their Senator and Representatives to help us get this bill passed and finally create a level playing field for all.”
Manchin isn’t the only politician disillusioned with the current situation, however. Over 50 members of Congress wrote to U.S. Soccer after the USWNT’s WC win asking to know why players on the women’s team are still receiving inferior wages, working conditions and investment.
The USMNT has worked somewhat under the radar in recent months thanks to the media circus surrounding the women’s team. The men’s team reached the final of the CONCACAF Gold Cup last Sunday night but lost 1-0 to Mexico after squandering many great opportunities in front of goal.
On the world stage, the USMNT failed to qualify for Russia 2018 and, despite a third-place finish in FIFA’s inaugural WC in Uruguay in 1930, has only ever progressed as far as the quarter-finals on one occasion – in 2002.
There is a clear disparity between the performance levels of the USWNT and the USMNT yet its payment scheme seems backwards to what it should be. But the women’s team is not requesting more pay than the men’s, they just want to rid all traces of gender discrimination in the U.S. Soccer Federation’s contracts.
After last weekend’s celebrations in France, the USWNT released the following statement on the matter:
“At this moment of tremendous pride for America, the sad equation remains all too clear, and Americans won’t stand for it anymore. These athletes generate more revenue and garner higher TV ratings but get paid less simply because they are women. It is time for the Federation to correct this disparity once and for all… A woman player’s base salary is approximately $30,00 less than her male counterpart’s and when including bonuses, women’s income is just 38 percent of men’s income.”
With mediation due to begin shortly, expect far more on this matter to be in the news very soon indeed.