Two Democratic congresswomen introduced legislation on Tuesday that would block federal funding for the 2026 World Cup — which will be jointly hosted by the United States, Mexico, and Canada — until the 2019 World Cup-winning U.S. women’s national team “are paid fair and equitable wages compared” to the American men.
Twenty-eight members of the USWNT filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against U.S. Soccer in March. The federal case is complex and hasn’t yet been heard, but the four-time champions have gained significant public support since beating the Netherlands earlier this month to become the first women’s team to successfully defend its title. Tuesday’s news is just the latest example.
“The U.S. women’s national team united our country and inspired the next generation of young women to pursue their dreams,” Congresswoman Doris Matsui, who represents California’s sixth district in the Bay Area, said in a press release. “Stars like Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan, and Rose Lavelle have used their stardom to elevate the issue of pay inequality in this country and inspire women across the nation to demand no less than what they deserve — equal pay for equal work.”
Matsui introduced the bill — dubbed the GOALS Act, an acronym for Give Our Athletes Level Salaries — with Rosa DeLauro, a longtime rep from Connecticut.
“From their victory in the World Cup to the ticker tape parade, chants of ‘equal pay’ have followed the U.S. soccer women’s national team everywhere they go,” DeLauro said in the press release. “Rightfully so. They are the best in the world.”
Reached by Yahoo Sports, a U.S. Soccer spokesman declined to comment on the GOALS Act, which has the support of 61 members of the House of Representatives. It needs 157 more votes to reach 218, or the simple majority necessary to move on to the Senate. (There are 435 members of the House.)
It was also endorsed by the National Organization for Women, which said in a statement it hoped the bill “will take important steps in pressuring the USSF to do what is right.”
In response to the lawsuit, the federation argued in May that the men’s and women’s national teams “are physically and functionally separate organizations that perform services for U.S. Soccer in physically separate spaces and compete in different competitions, venues and countries at different times; have different coaches, staff and leadership; have separate collective bargaining agreements; and have separate budgets that take into account the different revenue that the teams generate.”
The 2026 men’s World Cup will be the first to feature 48 teams — up from the current 32 — and is expected to be the most profitable, by far, in the competition’s nearly century-old history. The U.S. and its North American neighbors were awarded the event in June of 2018, beating out Morocco for the right to host.
The terminology “equitable pay” as the first language in the bill could be significant, because retired USWNT legend Abby Wambach criticized U.S. Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro for using that term instead of “equal pay” during his speech at the World Cup victory parade two weeks ago.
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