Katherine McCabe / Gavel Media

US Women's National Team Settles Equal Pay Lawsuit

On February 22nd, the United States Women's National Team settled a $24 million equal pay lawsuit with the United States Soccer Federation after almost three years of deliberation. 

The total compensation will be split two ways, with $22 million going to a lump sum for the players on the lawsuit, and the other $2 million going into an account that supports the post-career goals and charitable efforts related to women's and girl’s soccer. Each individual player is entitled to apply for up to $50,000 from this fund. 

Through the settlement, the USSF committed to paying an equal rate between the men's and women's team moving forward, including all friendlies and tournaments, and even the World Cup. 

The players had originally sought $66.7 million in back payments, but the $24 million that they were awarded is still a huge win and monumental moment for the gender pay gap not only in soccer, but for American society as a whole. 

The court recognized the inherent injustice in this difference, and the victory for the USWNT will only bolster the argument in many other sectors that have similar experiences. 

While the lawsuit is definitely a blemish on the record for the USSF, who fought incredibly hard in the legal battle to drop the Equal Pay provision altogether, the settlement allows them to move past this situation and amend their relationship with the women’s national team. 

The women’s team has markedly more success than the men’s team on the international level, and NWSL is one of the best and most-watched women’s soccer leagues in the world. Investing in their homegrown talent will only prove to be beneficial as they try to stay competitive in the women’s international game for years to come. 

The suit was filed in March of 2019, and included 28 players that had represented the United States on the international level. They sued under the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, focusing on equal pay and working conditions. 

The most striking difference between how the men’s and women’s teams are paid is their salary structure. The men’s players are only paid if they are called up to the national team, while the USSF rosters 16 women's players in a calendar year with a salary of $100,000, regardless if they play or not. Any other player called up is considered “non-contract,” and is thus only paid for the games they play in. 

The pay structure is also vastly different, as a call up to a World Cup roster for a men’s player is $67,000 while only being $37,500 for women’s. In addition, more minor games and friendlies also see a roughly 50% decrease in the women’s pay compared to the men’s players. 

Again, this demonstrates just how significant of a win this is for the USWNT. The huge pay discrepancy took litigation in a federal court to become equal, and will provide much needed and earned compensation to the 2019 World Cup champions.

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Phoenix born and raised. Lover of politics, coffee, and a panini presser from Eagles Nest. Bubble Suns are the best team in NBA history.