Six years of federal complaints, three years of litigation and decades of domination of the women's soccer circuit finally paid off with a historic achievement on Tuesday night as the U.S. Women's National Team finally got its long-awaited victory: equal pay.
Shortly after the team won 2-1 in a friendly against Nigeria at Audi Field in Washington, D.C., team representatives joined the men's team to sign a collective bargaining agreement with the U.S. Soccer Federation. The bargaining agreement was first announced in May, more than three years after the USWNT filed a $66 million lawsuit against U.S. Soccer over "," including unequal pay and working conditions compared to the men's team.
The team reached awith U.S. Soccer in February, which included backpay for previous World Cup prize money and a commitment that the men and women players would receive equal pay rates on all fronts.
On Tuesday, each team signed a collective bargaining agreement, both of which run through 2028, that sets a standard for equal pay through "identical economic terms," according to U.S. Soccer. The federation says both teams will get the same compensation for all competitions, including the World Cup, as well as the same commercial revenue sharing mechanism.
The USWNT, ranked No. 1 among women's teams in the world according to FIFA, has won four World Cups. The USMNT, ranked No. 14, has won none and failed to qualify for the tournament in 2018. The agreement marks the first time in soccer history that a women's national team will receive the same amount of pay as their male counterparts in the World Cup, U.S. Soccer said.
The agreements also set out to improve player health and safety, data privacy and maintain that both teams require equal prioritization.
Still wearing their uniforms from the game they just won, members of the women's team were draped in scarves that said "Equal Pay." Forward Alex Morgan, who was instrumental in the team's lawsuit against U.S. Soccer, held up a jersey showcasing the same message as she held her daughter, who wore her own "Equal Pay" apparel.
"It's so good. It's such a proud moment for all of us," USWNT forward Megan Rapinoe, who served as a face of the equal pay fight, said after the bargaining agreement were signed. "...That same 'never say die' attitude we had on the field, that's the same vibe we brought to this. So, it's a super proud moment. Really excited for everyone and really excited to see where this pushes the game up."
U.S. Soccer President Cindy Parlow Cone, the first woman to hold the position and a former USWNT star who won two Olympic gold medals and the 1999 World Cup with the team, said the deal will have global repercussions.
"For this day to finally be here, I literally can't put it into words how important this is to me personally," she said, according to ESPN. "But more important, what it's going to mean to the rest of the world – not just here in the U.S., not just in sports, but to the rest of the world."
USWNT head coach Vlatko Andonovski echoed her statement during a post-game news conference, saying the signing of the agreement is a "historic moment" that goes far beyond the women's team.
"It's a historic moment for women's soccer around the world, and not just soccer, it is a historic moment for sports in general," he said. "I've always said that this team is very progressive-minded and always sets standards for a lot of things, not just sports. And I'm just proud of the team and honored to be part of this team."
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