USWNT, U.S. Soccer settle equal pay lawsuit for $24M, promise to equalize pay
The United States women’s soccer team and the sport’s national governing body ended a protracted legal fight over equal pay by announcing a settlement Tuesday that includes a multimillion-dollar payment to the players and a promise to equalize pay between the men’s and women’s national teams.
The athletes, who filed a federal lawsuit in Los Angeles three years ago over the issue, will share $24 million in payments from U.S. Soccer under the terms of the agreement. The bulk of that money is back pay, an indication that the compensation for the men’s and women’s teams had been unequal for years.
U.S. Soccer will pay $22 million to the players in the case. An additional $2 million will be paid into an account to benefit the U.S. Women’s National Team players in their post-career goals and charitable efforts related to women’s and girls’ soccer. Each player will be able to apply for up to $50,000 from this fund.
In addition to the bulk payment, U.S. Soccer pledged to equalize pay between the men’s and women’s national teams in all competitions, including World Cup, in the next collective bargaining agreements for the teams. The change could mean millions of dollars for a new generation of women’s players, a pay gap that was once seen as an unbridgeable divide.
“We are pleased to announce that, contingent on the negotiation of a new collective bargaining agreement, we will have resolved our longstanding dispute over equal pay and proudly stand together in a shared commitment to advancing equality in soccer,” U.S. Soccer and the U.S. Women’s National Team said in a joint statement. “Getting to this day has not been easy. The U.S. Women’s National Team players have achieved unprecedented success while working to achieve equal pay for themselves and future athletes.
“Today, we recognize the legacy of the past USWNT leaders who helped to make this day possible, as well as all of the women and girls who will follow. Together, we dedicate this moment to them. We look forward to continuing to work together to grow women’s soccer and advance opportunities for young girls and women in the United States and across the globe.”
Even President Joe Biden weighed in on the settlement with a statement on Twitter saying, “This is a long overdue victory in the fight for equal pay. I’m proud of the @USWNT for never giving up — on and off the field. Now, let’s close the pay gap in every industry.”
The players filed a gender discrimination lawsuit in federal court in Los Angeles in 2019, a case that was dismissed by a judge in April 2020 but is being appealed. That appeal has not been put on hold, pending final approval of the settlement, which is contingent on the ratification of a new contract between U.S. Soccer and the players’ union for the women’s team.
“It wasn’t an easy process to get to this point for sure,” U.S. Soccer’s president, Cindy Parlow Cone, told The New York Times in a telephone interview. “The most important thing here is that we are moving forward, and we are moving forward together.”
The U.S. women’s team has won four World Cups since the program’s start in 1985. The U.S. men’s team has not reached a World Cup semifinal since 1930.
The existing labor contract between the U.S. women and the U.S. Soccer Federation expires March 31.