US Soccer has announced an ‘Equal Pay’ package that is set to bridge the ceiling between USMNT and USWNT.

In a landmark decision, the United States soccer’s governing body has agreed to launch an equal pay scheme that will seek to offer the same financial package for the men’s and the women’s teams, putting an end to a six-year legal dispute. In a joint statement, the federation confirmed its plans to bridge the gap between the two sets of teams and double its efforts to “advancing equality in soccer”.

The US Soccer federation’s dispute with the USWNT dates back to April 2016, when a few of the major stars in the team, including Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan, had led a complaint to the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The filing was launched not only in regard to the unequal pay by the governing body but also to shed light on the treatment of the women’s team, including chartered flights, accommodations and quality of playing surfaces. Three years later, in 2019, the players sued the commission, seeking damages under the federal Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

A year after, USWNT were dealt with a rather shocking blow when a federal judge sided with US Soccer, dismantling claims over equal pay but retaining their allegations over discriminatory working conditions, which was said to have breached the US Civil Rights Act.

The women’s national team initially sought $66 million in damages, but in what could be considered a major win, US Soccer has now agreed to put an end to the dispute by offering the women’s team $24 million in bonuses. $22 million is set to be disbursed between the players, whereas the additional $2 million will be transformed into a fund to help the players in their post-soccer careers.

Furthermore, US Soccer promised to provide an equal rate of pay for both the men’s and women’s teams in all international matches, including the friendlies, World Cups or any continental tournaments.

“For our generation, knowing that we’re going to leave the game in an exponentially better place than when we found it is everything. 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.” said USA midfielder Megan Rapinoe, who became the poster-girl for USWNT’s Equal Pay movement, along with teammate Alex Morgan.

The USWNT were showered with praises by politicians and fans alike, including Democratic US Senator Elizabeth Warren. “It’s 2022, and women shouldn’t have to keep fighting for equal pay—on the factory floor, at the checkout counter, or on the soccer field. But you don’t get what you don’t fight for. Congratulations to Megan Rapinoe and all who took on this righteous fight!” said Warren, who had been an outspoken supporter of the movement.

USWNT are currently the world champions, having won the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2015 and 2019. With the 2023 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand just around the corner, it will be interesting to see whether the Stars and Stripes can make history by securing the coveted competition for the third time in a row.

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