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US Federation pioneers equal pay for men and women soccer players

US Women Soccer Team which won the FIFA World in 2019

On September 14, the US Soccer Federation made an important announcement as it offered similar contracts to both the men’s and women’s national teams. This is a major step in terms of gender parity and pay equity.

The Federation in its statement specified that the single collective bargaining agreement and equal pay structure will ensure that male and female players “remain among the highest paid senior national team players in the world, while providing a revenue-sharing structure” which allows both teams to benefit in future.

Commenting on this decision in an article in qz.com, Leeja Carter, a feminist exercise and sports psychology scholar at Temple University said: “This definitely is a major step forward.”

She added that identical contract proposals represent recognition of “the ways in which the US women’s soccer team hasn’t been treated fairly” in the past.

This announcement by the Federation has come while legal cases are being fought on the issue of fair pay by the female players. Two years ago, in 2019, US women’s team had sued the Federation for gender discrimination.

Their lawsuit argued that while performing the same job responsibilities as male players “the female players have been consistently paid less money than their male counterparts.”

While the lawsuits were proceeding, the women’s team went on to win the FIFA World Cup second time consecutively, having won in 2015.

Last May a federal judge dismissed the majority of their claims following which the women’s team appealed.

Interestingly, the disparity in the prize money of the FIFA World cup continues to exist. While in 2015, a total of $15 million was awarded by FIFA, it was doubled to $30 million in 2019. The President of FIFA Gianni Infantino announced doubling of that amount for the 2023 event. Yet it pales into insignificance as the prize pool for the 2018 Men’s World Cup was roughly $400 million and it is expected to become $440 next year when the event is held in Qatar.