After a historic announcement of an agreement between the U.S. Soccer federation and the United States women’s national team, players are reflecting on the landmark settlement that was years in the making. Several players joined USSF president and former player Cindy Parlow Cone, to discuss the momentous occasion.
After a years long fight that spawned a 2019 lawsuit by players against the federation, the final settlement is worth $22 million, about a third from the initial $66 million in damages the players initially sought out. The USSF also agreed to the foundation of a $2 million fun to benefit charitable efforts and players in their post-soccer careers. But the biggest talking point has been the commitment to an equal pay rate between the women’s and men’s national team that includes World Cup bonuses that will take effect through collective bargaining agreements for the respective teams.
“We’ve had women fight for better pay and better working conditions and to be treated more fairly and with more respect,” USWNT captain Becky Sauerbrunn said. “Every generation has taken on that fight to close the gap, and every generation has left this program better for that fight. And we as the current players, we are thrilled that this fight has led to the closing of that gap.”
The agreement comes after an initial Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) complaint was filed back in 2016, which led to a gender discriminating lawsuit against U.S. Soccer. Former USSF president Carlos Cordiero resigned after summary judgment filings led to arguments that claimed the men’s team perform different jobs than the women’s team. Current president Parlow Cone took the president’s role with USSF after Cordiero’s resignation with a goal to reach a settlement with the players.
“I’ll be the first to admit the Federation has made mistakes in the past and as a former player, I definitely understand the frustration of being treated that way and in dealing with my predecessor,” Parlow Cone said.
“But I’m very proud of the work that we’ve done and continue to do on equal pay. And this is just one step towards rebuilding our relationship with a women’s team. This is a great accomplishment I think everyone should be excited about today. I know I am and I’m excited about the future and working together with them.”
Megan Rapinoe has often been vocal during the USWNT’s fight for equal pay and believes the settlement could be a new beginning for the team.
“I’m excited about moving forward,” she said. “I’m excited about this groundswell that we’re going to have, and excited that Cindy was able to get this done with us. To have a former player who’s gone through that with us, and on her own being able to be the one to take it over the finish line, and hopefully this can be a dawn of a new day at US Soccer because they certainly need to be much better.”