United States women footballers agree $24m equal-pay settlement

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·3 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Megan Rapinoe (right) and team-mate Alex Morgan (left) - AP
Megan Rapinoe (right) and team-mate Alex Morgan (left) - AP

US women have agreed a $24 million (£17.8m) settlement to end a six-year, equal-pay legal battle with their own federation.

The defending world champions had been in a long-term dispute with the United States Soccer Federation over discrepancies in earnings between them and the men's team, including receiving smaller World Cup bonuses despite winning the tournament on four separate occasions.

However, on Tuesday the fight finally came to a conclusion when they settled for a $22m lump-sum payment - a third of the amount they originally sought in damages. That money will be split between the players, with the USSF also agreeing to commit a further $2m to post-career and charitable endeavours. Players will be able to claim up to $50,000 (£37,000). The settlement was dependent on the players reaching a collective bargaining agreement with the federation.

The USSF has also committed to providing an equal rate of pay going forward for both national teams, "including the World Cup", which appears to solve one of the biggest points of contention - bonuses.

"For our generation, knowing that we’re going to leave the game in an exponentially better place than when we found it is everything,” midfielder Megan Rapinoe said. “That’s what it’s all about because, to be honest, there is no justice in all of this if we don’t make sure it never happens again.”

Rapinoe and team-mate Alex Morgan led a group of five players in 2016 with the original complaint and were later joined in a class-action lawsuit by the rest of the national team in 2019. They gained worldwide recognition for their fight after winning the World Cup that summer. After the final, a sell-out crowd at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais in France chanted "equal pay" as the USWNT celebrated on the pitch.

Though both sides in the row settled on working conditions in December 2020, including equal travel and pitch conditions, they were scheduled to appear in court on March 7 to argue over pay. To settle was a "relief" for Morgan. “It’s so gratifying to feel like we can start to mend a relationship with US Soccer that has been severed for so many years because of the discrimination that we faced,” said Morgan. “To finally get to this moment feels like we can almost sigh a breath of relief.”

Rapinoe has credited former player and USSF president Cindy Cone, who took over in March 2020, with helping to find a conclusion. Cone's predecessor, Carlos Cordeiro, stepped down from his role after the federation claimed women had less physical ability and responsibility than male counterparts in a legal filing.

“This is just one step towards rebuilding the relationship with the women’s team. I think this is a great accomplishment and I’m excited about the future and working together with them,” Cone said. “Now we can shift the focus to other things, most importantly growing the game at all levels and increasing opportunities for girls and women.”