US women’s soccer team reach historic new deal

US women’s soccer team reach historic new deal

women's soccer team

Six years after the US women’s soccer team (USWNT) began their campaign for equal pay, US Soccer and the players have reached an agreement, announcing one of the biggest deals in the history of soccer in the US. 

Players will split a total of $24m (AUD $33.2mil) with bonuses that will match those of their male counterparts. 

The eight-figure sum, roughly one-third of what the players sought in damages, is a victory for the team, who began their litigious campaign to the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2016. 

In their efforts to provide an equal rate of pay for the women’s and men’s national teams, the deal also sees US Soccer establish a $2m (AUD $2.76mil) fund to help players in their post-soccer careers, as well as donations to charitable programs aimed at supporting women in the sport. 

Midfielder Megan Rapinoe, who, along with striker Alex Morgan and five other USWNT players made the complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in April 2016, said that the latest deal is a sign that things are changing.

“For our generation, knowing that we’re going to leave the game in an exponentially better place than when we found it is everything,” she told The Guardian. 

“That’s what it’s all about because, to be honest, there is no justice in all of this if we don’t make sure it never happens again.”

“It’s so gratifying to feel like we can start to mend a relationship with US Soccer that has been severed for so many years because of the discrimination that we faced,” striker Alex Morgan said.

“To finally get to this moment feels like we can almost sigh a breath of relief.”

“The additional hours and stress and outside pressures and discriminations we face, I mean sometimes you think why the hell was I born a female?”

“And then sometimes you think how incredible is it to be able to fight for something that you actually believe in and stand alongside these women … There was something more than stepping on the field and wanting to be a starter or wanting to score goals or wanting to win or wanting to have the glory.”

In 2019, when the team won their second straight World Cup title in France, crowds were rallied into a whole-stadium chant, shouting “Equal Pay!”

US Soccer president Cindy Parlow Cone said the deal was “…just one step towards rebuilding the relationship with the women’s team. 

“I think this is a great accomplishment and I’m excited about the future and working together with them,” Cone, a former player who became head of the federation in March 2020, said. 

“Now we can shift the focus to other things, most importantly, growing the game at all levels and increasing opportunities for girls and women.”

Cone added that the federation’s strategy of equalising the World Cup bonuses has not yet been determined. 

USWNT players sued US Soccer in 2019, seeking damages under the federal Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

Last December, the players reached a proposed settlement with the US Soccer Federation, agreeing on enforcing several policies around improved travel, accommodation, staffing, playing venues, field surfaces, and support services.

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