The United States women’s national team’s equal pay fight was a big enough deal that the U.S. Soccer Federation felt the need to hire two Washington lobbying firms to fight against it. Now, it seems there are worries the argument will become a presidential campaign issue.
A lobbyist for U.S. Soccer reached out to at least five Democratic presidential campaigns before the debates last month to argue that the USWNT actually isn’t paid less than the men’s team, according to Politico.
U.S. Soccer was reportedly worried that the World Cup champions’ claims they are underpaid would get airtime during the Democratic debates:
“Given the high profile nature of this issue, and the fact that it could come up during the debate, the U.S. Soccer Federation wants to be sure all of the candidates have access to all available information,” Ray Bucheger, a lobbyist hired by U.S. Soccer, wrote in an email to one of the campaigns late last month.
In the weeks following the USWNT’s World Cup win, calls for equal pay have ratcheted from players, fans and politicians. After previously trying to keep the matter confined to mediation, U.S. Soccer went on the offensive.
The federation released a fact sheet that tried to argue the USWNT players are actually compensated more than the men, though it used somewhat warp figures to do so, not to mention the fact that comparing the salaries of World Cup champions and World Cup non-qualifiers is already pretty foolish.
Then U.S. Soccer hired the lobbyists and made it a Washington battle that has now apparently reached the upcoming presidential election.
The equal pay debate never came up during the Democratic debates in July outside of Kamala Harris mentioning the gender pay gap in America. However, it appears the pre-debate push might have still done more harm than good based on one comment a senior campaign adviser gave to Politico:
“Whoever does their lobbying and PR should be fired, and the money should go to the players,” the adviser said.
More from Yahoo Sports: