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The US women’s soccer team has easily been one of the nation’s most successful teams of all time. All in all, the women’s side has won 4 World Cups and 8 CONCACAF trophies as well putting their total international trophy haul at 12 major honors. The women’s side recorded back to back World Cup wins in 2015 and 2019 in a period of time which saw them dominate the international scene.
With all of that in mind, it would then seem strange to many people that the USA women’s soccer team is paid considerably less than the men’s side. A men’s soccer side that does not boast nearly the same level of international success as their female counterparts. The stark contrast between the two sides largely sparked the initial call for the women’s national side to receive equal pay. The road to where we find ourselves today was paved with controversy and difficulty. The women’s team would have to overcome an issue that has not only been prevalent in sports but in just about every other profession as well.
The first start on the road to equal pay occurred in 2019 when the US women’s soccer team filed a class action lawsuit seeking equal pay to that of the men’s national team. The lawsuit was filed under the Equal Pay Act and came just 3 months before the US women’s team would defend (and retain) their World Cup crown in 2019.
The 28 members of the women’s squad have all joined together in unity against the financial discrepancy between their side and the men’s team. The matter received plenty of media attention at the team when the lawsuit was put forward with many members of the public for and against the entire ordeal. The main argument against the equal pay lawsuit was that the women’s team simply did not bring in the same kind of revenue from TV rights and general support as the men’s side. This did not stop the US women’s national team from standing up for what they believe in, as the matter continued to push forward.
Unfortunately, the lawsuit was met with resistance and was actually thrown out by the judge in May of 2020. This curtailed the movement for equal pay significantly but it didn’t stop the US women’s team from continuing in their fight. They launched an immediate appeal against the ruling. The ruling was met by a statement from the USSF that explained they were keen to work towards a single pay structure for the men’s and women’s teams. This was met with suspicion as the USWNT believed the whole response to be nothing but a PR stunt from the USSF.
Things are still very tense between the USSF and USWNT but things at least appear to now be moving in the right direction. While the USSF wants the women’s national team to “share collectively in the opportunity that combined investment in the future of US Soccer will deliver” the US women’s national side were still not convinced by their proposal. The main sticking point was the lack of clarity on World Cup winning prize money. As it stands, if the men win the World Cup, they will receive $322m while the women have and will continue to receive in the region of $23m. A staggering gap between the two amounts which is exactly why the women’s national side continue to fight for this exact point of division.
The US women’s national team say that they are happy to continue the discussion in a cordial manner while they try to come to their final goal of completely equal pay between the two national teams.
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