U.S. women’s soccer team settles equal pay lawsuit


The U.S women’s national team reached a $24 million settlement with the U.S Soccer Federation in their six-year equal pay battle Feb. 22. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Soccer WNT Instagram .

Katrina Villarreal, Staff Reporter

The U.S. women’s national team (USWNT) reached a settlement with the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) to receive equal pay for years to come, ending a six-year fight Feb. 22. The settlement will ensure not only equal pay with its male counterparts but also offers the women’s team millions in back pay, equal pay on all fronts including world cup bonuses, and equality when it comes to equipment. 

“There are a lot of on-field accomplishments like World Cups and Olympics, league championships, but this will really stand out as one of the most meaningful moments,” current USWNT defender, Becky Sauerbrunn told Associated Press.  

The U.S. Soccer Federation will pay $24 million to the USWNT to settle the discrimination dispute. Both sides also announced that players will split $22 million, along with an additional $2 million to help the USWNT during their post-career goals and help with charity efforts to help grow women and girls’ soccer.  

“I just think it’s so difficult sometimes to talk about and to articulate the kind of discrimination, abuse, inequity and disrespect that so many women feel so often in their job,” current USWNT midfielder and winger, Megan Rapinoe told Associated Press. “And I think we were able to start to put a voice to that, put a face to it, put talking points to it and put a sort of movement behind it.” 

According to Associated Press, the fight began in 2016 when five players from the USWNT, including Rapinoe, Carli Lloyd, Hope Solo, Sauerbrunn and Alex Morgan filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The women explained that they were paid thousands of dollars less than the male players. In 2019, all 28 players of the USWNT filed a gender discrimination lawsuit. 

In 2020, a district judge ruled against the women claiming that they had agreed to a different pay than the men’s team, according to the Washington Post. During that same year, a legal file by the USSF was made public where they said, “(the women) do not perform equal work requiring equal skill and effort, the overall soccer-playing ability required to compete at the senior men’s national team level is materially influenced by the level of certain physical attributes such as speed and strength,” reported ESPN. 

In an article by the Washington Post they explain that the pay disparity is complex. The men’s team is compensated on a pay-for-play basis where the players are able to earn more if they won, while many of the women are offered a base salary and a smaller bonus for winning.  

For years the USWNT has been better than the men’s team, winning four World Cups since it was first formed. At times the women’s team brought in higher revenue than the men’s team, according to the Washington Post. 

The agreement to pay both the male and female players equally from this day forward also includes an agreement for players to receive equal pay by playing in World Cup competitions, where the bonuses provided to players have been profoundly unequal, reported Washington Post. 

History was made on this day, making it a big win for not only the current USWNT players but future players as well. 

“The biggest piece of little legacy that us of this generation can take is that the players coming up next will have a much better ability to just play,” Rapinoe said in an interview with CBS Mornings on Feb. 22.  

Katrina Villarreal is a staff reporter and may be reached at [email protected]