By Julieann Challacombe
Boston University News Service
A significant stepping stone in women’s sports was taken after the U.S. women’s national team settled with U.S. Soccer, but there is still plenty of work to be done.
After six years in court, and taking misogynistic blows from the now resigned president meant to support them, the USWNT met a $24 million total settlement in their fight for equal pay.
The $22 million will land directly in the player’s pockets and the additional $2 million into a post-career and charity fund. According to the full terms of the agreement, the $22 million will be shared between several dozen current and former players.
In the long term, U.S. Soccer has pledged to permanently provide, “an equal rate of pay going forward for the women’s and men’s national teams in all friendlies and tournaments, including the World Cup,” according to statements from both USWNT players and U.S. Soccer.
It has been a long time coming for the league as many players over the years have competed and retired before any real change could be made. Still, for current players like Megan Rapinoe, real justice will only fully arise with the next generation.
“Obviously, we’ve been in this for a long time and coming from a long history of women that have fought to put this sport in a better place,” Rapinoe said. “I think the thing that I look forward to, and I’m really proud of is that justice comes in the next generation never having to go through what we went through.”
Rapinoe and her teammates, though, still have a lot of negotiating to do.
Technically, the settlement is not completely finalized until a collective bargaining agreement has been reached.
While they have secured a financial settlement and long-term equality, the USWNT still must work on its new CBA and solidify the numbers that reflect equality to them.
According to midfielder Samantha Mewis, there have already been 35 CBA negotiation sessions held and there are many more to come. ESPN predicts a full settlement will be reached and announced by March 31.
Both the men’s and women’s teams, as well as executives of U.S. Soccer, have been present in the negotiations. For U.S. Soccer President Cindy Cone, it is important to amplify every voice, to ensure the entire league is on the same page now, and in the future.
“Moving forward and tying this settlement with the CBA. is important for both groups,” Cone said. “Because we all believe in equal pay, and the only way we can get there — until FIFA equalizes the World Cup prize money — is for the men’s team, the women’s team, and U.S. Soccer to get together and reach an agreement on equalizing it ourselves.”
For now, the USWNT celebrates a milestone in sports history that could never be taken away from them. While the fight is not completely over, they know the impact their bravery has had on women in and outside of sports is significant, something striker Alex Morgan could not be more proud of.
“We feel very comfortable and happy with the moment that we got to right now because it’s a huge win for us, for women’s sports, for women in general,” Morgan said. “It’s a moment we can all celebrate together right now.”