US Soccer says it offers “identical” contracts to the national teams for men and women. The association for the women’s team players calls the announcement a PR stunt.
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The U.S. women’s soccer team’s long-standing effort to get paid the same amount as their male counterparts took a new turn this week. Now US Soccer says it is proposing identical contracts for both teams. But the players aren’t cheering just yet, as NPR’s Laurel Wamsley reports.
LAUREL WAMSLEY, BYLINE: In an interview with NPR last year, Megan Rapinoe, the face of the women’s fight for equal pay, sums up the differences in the contracts of the men’s and women’s teams in this way.
MEGAN RAPINOE: If you look at the possibility of money for each team, ours is huge, hugely lower than the men.
WAMSLEY: The difference in pay is particularly poignant when you compare the team’s successes. The USA won the Women’s World Cup in 2019, while the men’s team failed to even qualify in 2018. The American top women won the bronze at the Olympic Games last month, while the men again failed to make it to Tokyo. Now US Soccer says it is offering identical contract proposals to each team’s unions. US Soccer says it offers a single pay structure for men and women. But what is actually in these proposed contracts is unknown. Does identical mean that the women will earn as much as the men previously earned? Will the men earn less?
The women’s national team’s union criticized the announcement of American football as a public relations stunt. The US Men’s Players Association did not respond to a request for comment. In an interview with the Aspen Institute in July, U.S. soccer president Cindy Parlow Cone said she and everyone at the federation is committed to equal pay. The big challenge, she says, is the huge difference FIFA pays men’s and women’s teams at the World Cup.
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CINDY PARLOW CONE: The vast majority of the 66 million that the women’s national team is litigating is the difference in FIFA World Cup prize money between the Men’s World Championship and the Women’s World Championship. It’s not something that American football controls, and to ask us to make up for that difference is simply unsustainable and would likely bankrupt the federation.
WAMSLEY: In its statement, US Soccer called on the men’s and women’s teams to come together to resolve the issue of World Cup prize money. The federation says it does not agree to contracts that do not meet that goal. Laurel Wamsley, NPR News.
(SOUNDBITE FROM THE KNUX SONG, “CAPPUCCINO”)
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