For years, members of the U.S. Women’s National Team have been fighting for pay equity and equal treatment. And following a triumphant win at the 2019 World Cup, it appears their fans are doing the same.
Yesterday at the Lyon Olympic Stadium in France, the USWNT nabbed its second consecutive victory in the soccer tournament, defeating the Netherlands in the finals by a score of 2-0. It marked the group’s fourth World Cup title, making it the most successful team in international women’s soccer. (It also boasts four Olympic women’s gold medals, eight Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football Gold Cups and 10 Algarve Cups.)
As co-captains Carli Lloyd, Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan and Co. reveled in the spotlight, fans inside the stadium not only cheered for their success, but also for gender pay parity. On social media, short clips and videos depicted the scene, with thousands on the stands shouting, “Equal Pay!” along with “U-S-A!”
It was a hard-fought monthlong championship for the USWNT, which was smack in the middle of a lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation, alleging gender discrimination and unequal wages.
In March, all 28 players sued the governing body with claims that female players are paid less than male players, despite their more consistent and superior performance. (In the suit, the team added that they were denied equal playing, training and travel conditions.) The federation denied discrimination, saying that any alleged pay difference between the teams is “based on differences in aggregated revenue.”
Last week, more than 50 members of Congress — spearheaded by Rep. Jackie Speier and other leaders of the House Democratic Women’s Caucus — penned a letter to the U.S. Soccer Federation demanding that it fairly pay the USWNT. The note read that female soccer players currently take home a base salary of about $30,000 less than their male counterparts as well as less bonus money for cinching a spot in the World Cup.
“We are such a proud and strong and defiant group of women. We’ve done exactly what we’ve set out to do, what we wanted to do,” Rapinoe said in a post-game interview with reporters. “Getting to play at the highest level at the World Cup is ridiculous, but to be able to couple that with everything off the field, and to back up all of those words with performances and back up those performances with words, it’s just incredible. I feel like this team is in the midst of changing the world around us, as we live.”
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