By KEVIN DERBY
2019 U.S. World Cup winners
Still buoyed by the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team’s overwhelming World Cup win this summer on soccer’s biggest stage, two Florida Democrats are continuing their push for the team to be paid on an equal footing with the men’s team.
Last week, U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, D-Fla., introduced the “Athletics Fair Pay Act,” which would ensure equal pay for all Olympic and amateur athletes. U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Fla., is cosponsoring the bill.
The bill is being championed in the upper chamber by U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and U.S. Rep. Patty Murray, D-Wash.
“All women athletes, including champions of the women’s soccer team, deserve equal pay now,” said Frankel who is one of the co-chairs of the Democratic Women’s Caucus. “With this bill, we will stamp out inequity, so the only thing left to fight for are world titles and Olympic gold medals.”
“When women succeed, America succeeds,” said Castor, who helps lead the Congressional Soccer Caucus. “Workplace discrimination persists in all types of settings, including athletic playing fields, as the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team has highlighted. Despite winning the Women’s World Cup for a record fourth time, the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team has faced an outsized wage and treatment gap compared to their male counterparts. Inequitable treatment and pay inequities are a drag on families across America and our bill tackles a particularly glaring problem.”
Frankel’s bill was sent to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee last week.
Castor wrote to Carlos Cordeiro, the president of the U.S. Soccer Federation, on the matter earlier this month.
“I urge you to take the opportunity surrounding the unparalleled success of the U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT) and remedy the inequities in their compensation and treatment. Doing so would rectify the long-standing unfairness that the USWNT has continued to endure. I have been pressing this issue for years, urged your predecessor to act, and now look to you to take action,” Castor wrote. “Just this year, the team has filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Foundation (USSF). On International Women’s Day, I filed a resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives calling for pay equity. You have received a letter from me and several of my colleagues today demanding answers about gender discrimination and unequal pay for the USWNT. What more will it take for our players to receive the recognition and compensation they deserve?
“As the players stated in their lawsuit: ‘The pay for advancement through the rounds of the World Cup was so skewed that, in 2014, the USSF provided the MNT with performance bonuses totaling $5,375,000 for losing in the Round of 16, while, in 2015, the USSF provided the WNT with only $1,725,000 for winning the entire tournament. The WNT earned more than three times less than the MNT while performing demonstrably better,’” Castor wrote before turning her attention to the USWNT’s current run in the Women’s World Cup.
“The facts are overwhelmingly clear and financial reports show that the women’s team has generated more revenue for U.S. Soccer than the men over the last three years. The U.S. 2-1 victory over France on June 28 set a record for the most-watched Women’s World Cup quarterfinal match on U.S. English-language television. FOX drew 6.12 million viewers for Friday’s match, and peaked at 8.24 million. FIFA expects the competition to reach a total of 1 billion viewers across all platforms worldwide. And Nike has stated that the USWNT soccer jersey is the best-selling soccer top ever sold on its website. It is clear that it is long past time that our women start earning equal pay as their counterparts,” Castor wrote. “I urge you and U.S. Soccer to not only act to rectify the pay inequity for the USWNT, but to urge FIFA to do more to raise the status of women in international soccer. It is reported that FIFA’s cash reserves have soared to a record $2.74 billion. That’s more than enough to take meaningful action to invest in women’s competition and boost pay equity for female players.
As one of the leaders of the Democratic Women’s Caucus, Frankel rounded up 50 members of the House to sent a letter to Cordeiro. Signers from Florida included Castor, Frankel and fellow Democrat U.S. Reps. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell and Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
“The inequities that these women champions have faced as members of the USWNT are indefensible,” the members wrote. “The U.S. Soccer Federation should work to correct course and close the wage gap so that the only thing women athletes are fighting for is the world title or a gold medal. Instead, the message sent to women and girls is that their skills and accomplishments are of lesser value.”
All 28 members of the United States women’s national team are plaintiffs in a gender discrimination suit they filed against the United States Soccer Federation in March — on International Women’s Day.