American football stars, including Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan, have reached a $24 million settlement with the NFL following a lawsuit over pay inequality with men’s team players.
The historic settlement was announced on Tuesday, years after a group of five female players on the women’s national team filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission over unequal pay and treatment.
Subject to the terms of the settlement, US Soccer will pay men and women an equal rate in the future in all friendlies and tournaments, including the World Cup.
“For us, this is just a huge win in ensuring that we not only correct the mistakes of the past, but prepare the next generation for something we only dreamed of,” Rapinoe said on Tuesday. “TODAY” show on NBC.
“We’re really in the midst of an amazing turning point in women’s sport,” she said, adding, “If you’re not paying attention to this now and what’s happening in women’s sport, you’re sleeping on everything.”
The EEOC complaint was filed in 2016 by Morgan, Rapinoe, Becky Sauerbrunn, Hope Solo, and Carli Lloyd (Solo and Lloyd retired).
Then in March 2019, 28 USWNT members submitted a file lawsuitciting years of persistent institutional gender discrimination against players in their compensation and working conditions.
The lawsuit garnered national attention and led to chants in the stadium with the slogan “Equal Pay!” When the US women’s team won the 2019 World Cup in Paris.
The wage disparity between men and women is stark. FIFA awarded $400 million in prize money to the 32 teams at the 2018 Men’s World Cup, and $38 million to the champion, France. By comparison, FIFA gave $30 million to the 24 teams at the 2019 Women’s World Cup, including $4 million for the United States after winning their second consecutive title.
A global sensation and a force in the sport, the US national team has won four FIFA Women’s World Cup titles since the competition was founded in 1991.
This is in stark contrast to the men’s national team, which finished third at the first World Cup held in 1930 – and hasn’t come close since.
US Soccer will pay $22 million to the players in the case and an additional $2 million in an account to benefit USWNT players in their post-career goals and charitable efforts related to women’s and girls’ soccer, according to the terms of the settlement. Players will be able to apply for up to $50,000 from this fund.
Legal saw back and forth in the previous case USA Football Association President Carlos Cordero resigned in March 2020 In the wake of the bitter backlash stemming from a legal filing that included sexist language comparing female and male players.
His resignation led to former American quarterback Cindy Barlow-Cohn becoming the first female president in the league’s history.
The settlement is based on the ratification of a new collective bargaining agreement for USWNT and US Soccer, which will resolve all claims in the 2019 suit.
Morgan said on “TODAY” that their work leveling the playing field is far from over.
She said, “American football has agreed to equalize the prize money going forward, and obviously we’re calling on FIFA to really equalize that in the men’s and women’s tournaments. That’s really what we set out to do. Equity on all fronts.”
“It’s a proud moment for all of us,” she added.
In a joint statement, the players and American football said: “Arrival to this day has not been easy. US Women’s National Team players have achieved unprecedented success while working to achieve equal pay for themselves and the female athlete of the future. Today, we recognize the legacy of the former USWNT leaders who helped make this Today is possible, and so are all the women and girls who will follow.”
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