Members of the US Women's National Soccer Team smile and celebrate on the field.

US Soccer Federation Finally Settles That Shameful Equal Pay Lawsuit With USWNT for $24 Million

The U.S. Soccer Federation and the U.S. Women’s National Team have finally settled their ongoing lawsuit over gender-based pay disparities, with the USSF agreeing to pay a total of $24 million.

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The lawsuit has been an incredibly frustrating ordeal. This complaint was filed in 2019 but the team’s public fight for equal pay and basic respect from the federation has been an issue for at least a decade.

This has been an infuriating battle, as the USWNT consistently generates more revenue for the federation and wins more matches—including World Cups—than their male counterparts but earn a tiny fraction of their pay. That’s because the two teams are paid based on different earnings structures, and the women’s deal has been in glaring need of renegotiating for many years.

Because the success and skill of the women is undeniable, the USSF chose to argue in court that the women deserved to be paid less because they are physically inferior—a move that led to massive backlash and the resignation of now-former federation president Carlos Cordeiro.

The team garnered a huge amount of public support with the suit. The crowd at the 2019 World Cup final in the Netherlands erupted in chants of “Equal Pay!” Secret deodorant took out a full-page ad in the New York Times calling for the USSF to do the right thing and pay female athletes fairly (and announcing their own donation to the cause).

But in May of 2020, the judge in the case dismissed the suit, saying the team had not provided enough evidence to support their claims of unequal pay. The issue again came down to the differences in pay structures, especially as it applied to earning bonuses, which left the women winning more and earning less but according to this judge, made it difficult to prove true discrimination was at play. (It was.)

The team appealed and now they and the USSF have reached this current settlement, which will see $22 million going to the players, to be “distributed in a manner proposed by the USWNT players and approved by the District Court,” according to ESPN.

The remaining $2 million will be put into a fund to benefit the players “in their post-career goals and charitable efforts related to women’s and girls’ soccer,” writes the outlet. “Each player will be able to apply for up to $50,000 from this fund.”

In addition to the lump sum, the USSF has also reportedly agreed to establish a new rate of pay for the players moving forward.

Megan Rapinoe, one of the team’s stars and also a member of the OL Reign in the National Women’s Soccer League, said of the decision: “This is going to be one of those incredible moments that we look back on and say the game changed forever, U.S. Soccer changed forever, and the landscape of soccer in this country and in the world changed forever because of this.”

(via ESPN, Washington Post, image: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)


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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.