A years-long fight over equal pay between the US Soccer Federation (USSF) and key players of the World Cup-winning national women’s soccer team have finally come to an end.
In a court filing on Tuesday, the two parties said they’ve reached a settlement that includes a $24 million payout (or a $22 million lump sum) to a group of several dozen current and former women’s national team players. The bulk of the figure is back pay, the New York Times reported.
The settlement also includes a pledge from USSF to equalize pay between the men’s and women’s national teams in all competitions, including the World Cup, in the teams’ next collective bargaining agreements.
“We can’t go back and undo the injustices that we’ve faced,” Rapinoe told “Good Morning America.” “The only justice coming out of this is that we know that something like this is never going to happen again, and we can move forward in making soccer the best sport that we possibly can in this country and setting up the next generation so much better than we ever had it.”
In 2016, Morgan, Rapinoe, Becky Sauerbrunn, Hope Solo and Carli Lloyd (Solo and Lloyd are retired) filed their original complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleging unequal pay from their male counterparts.
Then on March 8, 2019, International Women’s Day, 28 members of the USWNT filed a lawsuit, citing years of ongoing institutionalized gender discrimination against the players in their compensation and working conditions.
“I don’t know if it’s a responsibility, but I want things to change,” Rapinoe, told FN in 2019. “There’s such an incredible movement around women happening right now, though it’s not quick enough. There’s still so much tension and pushback, whether it’s racial issues or gender issues or pay disparity.”
In May 2020, a judge in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California ruled the women could not prove discrimination over pay and partially granted the USSF’s motion for a partial summary judgment. In December the same year, players settled for a portion of the lawsuit relating to claims of unequal working conditions, which included alleged differences between the men’s and women’s travel accommodations. However, the US Women’s National Team (USWNT) still proceeded with an appeal on the wage discrimination claims under the Equal Pay Act, which was officially settled today.
USWNT accolades include four World Cup championships, four Olympic gold medals, record-breaking viewing numbers and jersey sales. For context, the men’s team has never won an Olympic gold medal or advanced past the World Cup quarterfinals since finishing in third place in 1930.
Similar purported inequalities have also been documented heavily in the WNBA, and most recently at the NCAA Basketball Tournament last year.