U.S. Soccer and the U.S. women’s national team agreed to settle a class-action equal pay lawsuit Tuesday.
Under the agreement, current and former players involved in the case will receive a total of $22 million. U.S. Soccer will also pay an additional $2 million into an account designed to benefit USWNT players in their postcareer goals and other charitable efforts related to women’s soccer. Each player will be able to apply for up to $50,000 from this fund.
The settlement is contingent upon a new collective bargaining agreement for the USWNT. Once a new CBA is ratified, a district court will be able to give its approval and ultimately resolve the litigation.
“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,” U.S. Soccer and USWNT players said in a joint statement Tuesday. “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.
“We look forward to continuing to work together to grow women’s soccer and advance opportunities for young girls and women in the United States and across the globe.”
In addition to the financial terms agreed to in the settlement, U.S. Soccer has committed to providing an equal rate of pay for the women’s and men’s national teams in all friendlies and tournaments, including the World Cup, moving forward.
“I’m just so proud, to be honest. I’m so proud of all of the hard work that all of us did to get us here,” USWNT forward Megan Rapinoe said on Good Morning America on Tuesday morning. ”It’s a really amazing day. I think we’re going to look back on this day and say this is the moment that, you know, U.S. Soccer changed for the better.
“Obviously we can’t go back and undo the injustices that we faced, but the only justice coming out of this is that we know that something like this is never gonna happen again. We can move forward in making soccer the best sport we can in this country and set up the next generation so much better than we ever had it. ... We’re just very excited to have arrived here after a very long and arduous road.”
The women’s players’ union, the USWNTPA, echoed a similar sentiment to Rapinoe’s, calling the settlement “an important step in righting the many wrongs of the past,” per ESPN.
The fight for equal pay began nearly six years ago, when five star players filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission accusing U.S. Soccer of wage discrimination. Since then, the two sides battled both in the media and in court, resulting in a contentious relationship between the sport’s national governing body and the women’s soccer team.
“We have a lot of work to do and continuing to rebuild the relationship with the players,” U.S. Soccer president Cindy Parlow Cone said Tuesday, per ESPN. “We have to come to a solution on the CBA agreements. But the focus now shifts to growing the game from a commercial perspective with our strategic partners, and having the players on our side to go hand in hand and to encourage FIFA to equalize the World Cup prize money.”
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