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US Women’s Soccer team settles equal pay lawsuit from 2019

(Photo courtesy of NPR) The U.S. women’s national soccer team

Matt Micale
Connector Editor

The U.S. women’s soccer team had a monumental victory in late February against U.S. Soccer, settling a lawsuit that originated in 2019. The lawsuit claimed that the U.S. women’s soccer players are entitled under law to more equal pay to their male counterparts. The victory in court will ensure that the athletes will receive a collective $24 million in the near future. The women’s national team will help decide how these funds are distributed amongst players.

In 2016, the first complaint regarding the matter was filed by five U.S. women’s players. After that, a lawsuit backed by the entire U.S. women’s national team was filed in 2019. The suit alleged institutionalized gender discrimination towards the team. However, in 2020, District Court Judge Gary Klausner dismissed the case arguing that the women’s team makes more money per game than the men’s team. The case was later reopened, leading to this victory for the women’s team. Discussions surrounding the case were accelerated in the weeks leading up to the decision.

As part of the women’s argument, they restated that winning the World Cup would award each male player around $400,000 while female players would earn around $100,000. Also, overall, the women earn around only 40% of what the men make . On top of this, the U.S. men’s team has never won the World Cup while the U.S. women’s team has won four. During the women’s team last appearance in the finals, fans chanted “equal pay,” showing their support for the team.
“It wasn’t an easy process to get to this point for sure. The most important thing here is that we are moving forward, and we are moving forward together” said Cindy Parlow Cone, U.S. Soccer’s president. Cone is a former U.S national player and the first women to be the head of U.S. soccer.

The agreement is reliant on the men’s national team either surrendering or sharing millions of dollars from World Cup payments from FIFA, the international governing body for soccer. Muddying the picture, the men’s national team does bring in more money and higher T.V ratings, making the entire situation more complex. Some men’s players have already stated that they support more equal pay and have agreed to comply.

“I think it was just extremely motivating to see organizations and employers admit their wrongdoing, and us forcing their hand in making it right. The domino effect that we helped kick-start — I think we’re really proud of it.” said Alex Morgan, former co-captain of women’s national team. Morgan along with some of her teammates filed the original complaint back in 2016.
Countries including Norway, Australia and the Netherlands have already equalized pay for their men’s and women’s teams. Hopefully, other countries will follow suit after the U.S. made immense progress in this social justice issue.

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