Yesterday, the U.S. women's national soccer team players settled their class-action lawsuit over equal pay with the U.S. Soccer Federation for a total of $24 million – more than $40 million shy of their initial prayer for relief. The settlement also includes a pledge by the USSF to move towards equal pay.
While all of the details of the settlement are not yet public, SFC finds it concerning that equal pay would be contingent on anything at all. Currently, the deal is continent on:
- The USWNT and USSF creating a new collective bargaining agreement
- The USSF committing to an “equal rate of pay” if that rate includes equal FIFA World Cup Championship bonus payments to Men and Women. USSF has no control over these rates to begin with.
- And that the USSF will use best efforts to get to equal pay.
It is also worth noting that the generations of athletes who no longer play for USWNT were left out of the settlement. Only the current players receive a payout, not the athletes who started this fight in 2015, or even the ones who came before that. SFC Board Member Hope Solo said it best:
This settlement is not a “huge win.” It’s heartbreaking and infuriating. A “promise” of equal pay from the Federation and backpay for a select group of players isn’t equal pay and it’s not what this fight was about.— Hope Solo (@hopesolo) February 23, 2022
Read the fine print. “Contingent upon the negotiation of a new collective bargaining agreement.” It doesn’t exist yet and isn’t guaranteed. If the players had ever been successful in negotiating an equal CBA, there would’ve been no reason to sue the Federation in the first place— Hope Solo (@hopesolo) February 23, 2022
It also guarantees nothing to the next generation of players. The equal pay case against US Soccer I filed on behalf of the Team long before the Team sued, still stands and I remain committed to fighting for all players — past, present and future.— Hope Solo (@hopesolo) February 23, 2022
This settlement is a step in the right direction, but there’s still a long way to go before women athletes have equality. The settlement only emphasizes why Congress needs to pass the Equal Pay for Team USA Act as quickly as possible.
The Equal Pay for Team USA Act is the only bipartisan equal pay legislation in Congress and is currently before the Senate Commerce Committee. SFC and Solo have long advocated for this bill and is one of the most vocal groups in support of the legislation. At the time of introduction in July 2021, Solo said:
"I began the fight for equal pay in 2015. For most of that, it has been a lonely crusade. However, the introduction of the Equal Pay for Team USA Act proves that this movement has powerful allies. Words cannot express my gratitude for Chairwoman Cantwell and Senator Capito's leadership on such a critical bill for generations of athletes. I look forward to working with them to make this bill law."
While the settlement for USWNT is good news, the real victory will be when Congress passes this vital piece of legislation.