The U.S. Women's National Soccer Team Officially Won the Fight for Equal Pay

After a years-long dispute, the USWNT and the U.S. Soccer Federation announced a new collective bargaining agreement.

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At long last, the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) will pay its men's and women's teams equally.

After years of fighting over equal pay, yesterday the federation announced a new collective bargaining agreement (aka a new contract) between USSF (also referred to as U.S. Soccer), the United States Women's National Team (USWNT), and United States Men's National Team (USMNT). Now, the USWNT, which has four Women's World Cup victories, will be paid at the same rate for games and tournament prize money as the men's team. The agreement will run through December 2028.

"I feel a lot of pride for the girls who are going to see this growing up, and recognize their value rather than having to fight for it," said Margaret Purce, USWNT forward, as reported by the Associated Press.

Public figures have been quick to congratulate the USWNT on their historic win, including former first lady Michelle Obama. "I'm so proud of the talented players of @USWNT who worked tirelessly for years to advocate for the pay they deserve. I'm thinking of all the little girls everywhere who dare to dream and will see this team as an example of what's possible when you never give up," she wrote in a tweet.

Need a quick recap? In March 2016, high-profile players, including Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, and Hope Solo filed a wage discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a federal agency that enforces laws against workplace discrimination, citing unequal pay between the men's and women's teams. Three years later, 28 additional USWNT playersmembers filed a class-action gender discrimination lawsuit against USSF, citing discrepancies in pay, medical treatment, travel arrangements, and overall workload, according to NBC News. By November 2019, the lawsuit grew to include any player that had been part of the women's soccer team since 2015, according to The New York Times. (Read more about the USWNT legal battle here.)

In May 2020, the California judge presiding over the case dismissed the lawsuit, arguing that the women players actually received higher pay than male players. Lawyers for the USWNT filed an appeal in July, arguing that they outperformed the men's team but still received smaller bonuses, despite winning the World Cup in both 2015 and 2019.

In a joint statement released on February 22, 2022, the two organizations confirmed that they resolved their "longstanding dispute over equal pay and proudly stand together in a shared commitment to advancing equality in soccer." This was the first step toward ending the six-year battle between the women's team and the sport's governing body, who argued that male soccer players require "a higher level of skill based on speed and strength" and "more responsibility" than that of female players back in 2020.

USSF agreed to pay $22 million to 61 current and former USWNT members named in the aforementioned lawsuit. Also part of the settlement deal, U.S. Soccer committed to providing pay and bonuses that match those the men's team in the future, according to The Wall Street Journal. U.S. Soccer also agreed to establish a $2 million fund that aims to both benefit the players in their post-soccer careers and support charitable efforts to help develop and grow girls' and women's soccer on a national level. Eligible USWNT players will be able to apply for up to $50,000 from the fund.

In their statement from February, both organizations acknowledged the women's hard-earned fight: "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."

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