They just won a landmark settlement that also awarded them $24 million in backpay.
After a six year legal battle, the U.S. women’s national soccer team has finally prevailed. This week, U.S. Soccer, the federation that serves as the national governing body of the sport, reached an agreement with the team on a $24 million settlement and a promise to equalize pay between the men’s and women’s national teams in all future competitions.
The win comes after a long and public battle in which UWNST took U.S. Soccer to court over wage discrimination, with some of the team’s star players claiming they were being paid as little as 40% of what those on the men’s national team were being paid, even while the women were winning World Cup and Olympic gold medal titles. The $24 million, a tacit acknowledgement of uneven pay scales, will be split among dozens of current and former national team players. $2 million will be set aside for charitable endeavors.
“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,” a joint statement between both sides reads. “Getting to this day has not been easy.”
Indeed, the agreement is a monumental achievement, particularly considering that a judge had dismissed the players’ equal pay lawsuit in 2020. But the promise from U.S. Soccer, particularly the unprecedented agreement of equal pay moving forward, may be the start of a long healing process and a historic milestone for future generations of female soccer players. The battle — which first began in 2016 when star players Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd, Hope Solo, and Becky Sauerbrunn filed a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claiming wage discrimination — has led to messy spats spilling out into the public arena, including defenses from U.S. Soccer that the women were paid less because the male players required more skill and brought in more revenue.
The new deal, though, is only a start, as it is contingent on the signing of a single collective bargaining agreement between U.S. Soccer and both the women’s and men’s national teams. This unified collective bargaining agreement would require the men’s players to give up potentially millions of dollars in World Cup payments. But the men’s and women’s teams have already begun joint negotiating sessions with U.S. Soccer, and last summer the men’s national team backed USWNT in court over their equal pay dispute.
"The U.S. Women’s National Team players have achieved unprecedented success while working to achieve equal pay for themselves and future athletes,” the joint statement said. “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.”