USWNT, soccer, settles equal pay lawsuit for $24 million

Rapinoe, who was among the leaders of the lawsuit, called the settlement a “big win” for players and athletes globally, adding that she believed this would resonate far beyond football in this country.

“This is going to be one of those wonderful moments where we look at and say the game has changed forever, American football has changed forever, and the football landscape in this country and in the world has changed forever because of this,” she said.

The agreement, which includes $22 million for the 28 players who filed the suit and establish a $2 million charitable fund for women’s and girls’ soccer, is a victory for female athletes but falls short of the $67 million they paid for their suit.

As part of the settlement, US Soccer also agreed to pay men and women an equal rate going forward – including at the World Cup, where the rewards FIFA provides to players and women remains largely unequal.

Cindy Barlow-Cohn, head of the NFL and a former member of the women’s national team, said the federation hopes to “rebuild” its relationship with the women’s team.

“I will be the first to admit that the federation has made mistakes in the past, and as a former player, I understand the frustration of being treated this way… but I am really proud of this moment,” she said.

The details of the pay disparity that players claimed were complicated. The men’s team was compensated on a pay-per-play basis, with players earning more if they win, while many women were offered a base salary and smaller bonuses for winning. This difference was the basis of American football’s argument that it did not discriminate against players on the women’s team.

But the women argued that the men’s team contract was more lucrative, explaining how they would have earned more if they were playing under the terms of the men’s deal. While US Soccer said it offered the women the same contract structure as the men, the women argued that they were not offered the same dollar amounts.

American football has been criticized for this disparity, especially after it argued in legal acknowledgments that female players are less skilled and work in less demanding jobs than men. The then-president of the FA, Carlos Cordero, resigned and apologized after an outcry that included many of American football’s biggest sponsors. Cordero runs against Barlow Kuhn in an attempt to regain his seat.

The settlement comes as American football deals with a firestorm over allegations of coaching abuse that rocked the Women’s National Football League last year. The federation has hired former attorney general Sally Yates to investigate after five of the league’s male coaches resigned or were fired amid allegations of misconduct.

A group of prominent national team players involved in the lawsuit condemned American football this month for its inaction after the Washington Post found allegations of sexual misconduct against longtime soccer coach Rory Dams in the youth soccer system’s decades-old system. American football investigated women’s football after a national team player filed a complaint against him in 2018, but allowed him to continue training.

Rapinoe said the account about the abuse of players is closely linked to the gender discrimination alleged by the national team in their lawsuit.

“There is no justice unless this happens again,” she said. “It is all part of the same system. It is part of a system of disrespect, misogyny, sexism, inequality and discrimination. This is the first step, not the last.”