This morning, the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team paraded through the Canyon of Heroes in New York, celebrating their second consecutive World Cup victory. Along with the usual cheers of “USA!,” onlookers chanted, “Equal pay!,” referencing the team’s ongoing struggle to be paid as much as the men’s team.
Their fans may finally get their wish. Yesterday, Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) announced a bill that would prevent “any and all” federal funding for the 2026 World Cup — unless the male and female players are paid equitably.
The bill reads:
No federal funds may be appropriated or otherwise made available to provide support for the 2026 World Cup, including support for a host city, a participating State or local agency, the United States Soccer Federation, the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF), or the Federation de Football Association (FIFA), until the date on which the United States Soccer Federation agrees to provide equitable pay.
Learn more about pay equity in PayScale’s report, The State of the Gender Pay Gap 2019.
The Fight for Equal Pay
Manchin said that he was prompted to propose the bill after receiving a letter from West Virginia University (WVU) Women’s Soccer Head Coach, Nikki Izzo-Brown:
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.
The team’s most recent battle for equal pay began in March, when members of the women’s team sued the U.S. Soccer Federation, alleging that U.S. Soccer had “utterly failed to promote gender equality.” In addition, the suit claimed that “gone so far as to claim that ‘market realities are such that the women do not deserve to be paid equally to the men.’”
The women’s team is far more successful than the men’s, which hasn’t won an Olympic medal since 1904. Still, the women players have far less lucrative contracts than the men. Per the suit, the women’s potential earnings come in at $99,000 per year, compared to the men’s potential earnings of $263,320.
Manchin’s office tells The Huffington Post that federal funds are used in a variety of ways in tournaments, including infrastructure, security and visa waivers for FIFA officials.
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