US Soccer, USWNT agree to $24 million equal pay settlement

Megan Rapinoe of the USWNT holds up the FIFA Women's World Cup Trophy.
Megan Rapinoe of the USWNT celebrates with the FIFA Women's World Cup Trophy on 7 July 2019 in Lyon, France. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

After six years of a constant legal battle over financial parity between men’s and women’s teams, the US Soccer Federation and the USWNT reached an equal pay agreement.

It had to be on Tuesday’s palindrome date of 22.2.22. On what is a once-in-a-lifetime calendrical occurrence, the long-awaited football saga came to a happy ending.

Women’s national team players will receive $22 million with an extra $2 million going to future post-career goals and efforts to improve women’s football. Each current and former member of the USWNT should be able to apply for a maximum of $50,000 out of it.

Moreover, US Soccer promised to provide equal payments in all tournaments and friendly games, since the World Cup bonuses have been the most important point of juxtaposition.

“We are pleased to announce that, […] we will have resolved our longstanding dispute over equal pay and proudly stand together in a shared commitment to advancing equality in soccer,” began the joint statement between US Soccer and USWNT players.

Players reactions to the news

Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan appeared on Today Tuesday and deposited their opinions on the matter.

Rapinoe called it “a huge win.” But for her, this was not just a resolution for the mistakes of the past. It was also a way to “set the next generation up for something that [they] could only dream of.”

Appearing extremely proud of the historic achievement, Morgan said, “It’s really what we set out to do, equalize on all fronts, and we’ve been able to achieve that.”

It has been no secret, that the USWNT was incredibly underpaid in comparison to the men’s side. The winners of the last two Women’s World Cups got paid only $2 million in prize money. This was around $3 million less than what the men’s team received after a round of 16 elimination in 2014.

Current US Soccer President Cindy Parlow Cone appeared on Good Morning America. Praising the women’s team efforts, she also discussed the goal of rebuilding the relationship between the women’s and men’s sides.

“Right now we’re focused on moving the game forward so this is actually a great transition moment,” said Cone. “They are not only the best players in the world, [but also] they are great ambassadors for our sport.”

The chronicles and the vast differences of the two sides

Almost six years ago, in April 2016, USWNT players lodged a complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Three years later, the initial group of players led by Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan, sought additional losses under the law of the Civil Rights Act.

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In the meantime, the public quarrel between the two sides went viral. Both sides were reluctant to do back and eventually, the whole matter turned “ugly.”

Already burdened under negative public opinion, the US Soccer Federation presented unspeakable arguments that women players are inferior to men. The overall message being that women players don’t deserve to ask for more than what they “deserve.”

After the players wore their jerseys inside out in protest and a huge portion of the public’s opinion piled up the pressure on the federation, Carlos Cordeiro had to step down as president.

Although the 66-year-old former president left his position two years ago, he is eyeing to make an odd comeback, seeking to win next month’s elections against Cone.

What are the gains for both sides

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Initially, the USWNT members were seeking more than $60 million. But at this point, it was more about creating solid fountains, rather than filling their pockets.

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Players’ lawsuit was firstly considered hopeless to get them any money, forcing players to appeal. As we watched in the documentary LFG, players lost the roof over their heads when they learnt about the dismissal of their initial report.

Lately, we have seen players from all sports unions, such as Canadian soccer professionals, WNBA and ice hockey players, pushed for changes and managed to get heard through their platforms.

Australian and Norweish federations gained massive perks over those who failed or refused to do so.

Even though it might sound kind of bittersweet, the US Soccer Federation should be feeling blessed with the outcome.

Although their objections helped them to win the case at first, they faced fierce backlash, that massacred their reputation. Sponsors were embarrassed with their attitude and brand names like Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe and Becky Sauerbrunn turned their back to them.

After Tuesday’s news, the final settlement might have found US Soccer defeated, economically wise since it remarked an expensive end to the saga, but also “healed” some of their previous mistakes.

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