Senator introduces bill halting funding for 2026 World Cup until USWNT gets equal pay

The United States women’s national soccer team has a political ally in its fight for equal pay.

Joe Manchin, a Democratic senator from West Virginia, introduced a bill Tuesday proposing a halt to federal funding for the 2026 World Cup, which will be hosted by the United States, Mexico and Canada, until the U.S. Soccer Federation “agrees to provide equitable pay” to both the U.S. men’s and women’s teams.

The bill calls for cutting off any federal money that would go toward efforts for hosting the 2026 World Cup, including funds distributed to “host cities, participating local and state organizations, the U.S. Soccer Federation, CONCACAF and FIFA.”

Manchin, who said the issue was brought to his attention by West Virginia University coach Nikki Izzo-Brown, said the fact that the women’s team members are paid less than men is “plain wrong.” With the bill, he is calling for a “level playing field for all.”

“The clear unequitable pay between the U.S. men’s and women’s soccer teams is unacceptable and I’m glad the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team latest victory is causing public outcry. They are the best in the world and deserve to be paid accordingly,” Manchin said in a statement.

United States' Megan Rapinoe lifts up a trophy after winning the Women's World Cup final soccer match between US and The Netherlands at the Stade de Lyon in Decines, outside Lyon, France, Sunday, July 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
United States' Megan Rapinoe lifts up a trophy after winning the Women's World Cup final against The Netherlands. (AP)

The USWNT won its fourth World Cup over the weekend with a triumphant 2-0 victory over the Netherlands in the final. But before the World Cup even got underway, the women’s national team filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation alleging “institutionalized gender discrimination.”

In the lawsuit, the U.S. players, who make far less than the much less successful men’s team, are seeking a pay increase. The lawsuit cites an array of issues, including the larger bonuses received by the men’s team and the differences in treatment, such as travel accommodations and promotion the two teams receive from U.S. Soccer.

Throughout the latest run to the World Cup crown, the players have not hesitated to be outspoken about the issue while also continually calling out FIFA for not investing in the women’s game the same way it does the men’s product.

“I feel like this team is in the midst of changing the world around us as we live,” Megan Rapinoe, one of the team’s most outspoken members, said after Sunday’s final.

Added defender Ali Krieger: “We just love to play this game but we also understand we have somewhat of a responsibility to uphold and being a role model for people who maybe don’t have a voice, not only in football but in important issues that are happening around us.”

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