The World Cup is over, but the fight for equal compensation on the field continues.
On Tuesday, Rep. Doris Matsui of California and Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut introduced the Give Our Athletes Level Salaries (GOALS) Act to Congress. The GOALS Act would block federal funding for the 2026 Men's World Cup — which will be hosted, jointly, by Canada, Mexico and the U.S. — until the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) pays the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team (USWNT) "fair and equitable wages."
The bill would withhold funds for 2026 Men's World Cup host cities, participating local and state organizations, the USSF, the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) and FIFA. The bill also proposes withholding visas for FIFA officials, funding for stadium upgrades and funding for infrastructure in host cities.
"The U.S. women's soccer team brought the whole world, the whole country, together," Matsui tells CNBC Make It. "These women demonstrate what's best in our country, and I just really feel that they need to be recognized in the appropriate way — and they ought to be paid equally, too."
The bill is the latest show of support from lawmakers in an ongoing fight for legal support for pay equity that began earlier this year and gained renewed attention following the World Cup.
In March, 28 members of the USWNT filed a lawsuit against the USSF for gender discrimination and unequal pay, claiming that if the men's and women's teams won each of the 20 non-tournament games they are contractually required to play, women's team players would be paid roughly 38% of what the men would be paid. Since winning their fourth World Cup Championship earlier this month, the team has continued to speak out on the issue of equal pay, now with the support of a number of Democrats.
Earlier in July, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin introduced a bill that would ban federal funding for the 2026 Men's World Cup until the USSF pays the women's and men's team equitably. That same week New York City Mayor and presidential hopeful Bill de Blasio told CNN that if elected president, he would "insist that Congress pass an amendment to the Amateur Sports Act requiring equal pay for men and women in all of our national sports teams and if [Congress] didn't do it, I'd use an executive order to have the treasury department enforce."
Matsui says that while equal pay is a crucial piece of the fight, the GOALS Act is unique in its attempt to fully address the complexities of how members of the USWNT are compensated.
"They should be having, let's say, equal pay, but it goes beyond that too," she says. "Because their value is really based upon many other things, like the ticket sales, so equity probably is a better way to put it, because you're really paying their value."
According to audited financial statements from the USSF obtained by The Wall Street Journal, USWNT games have generated more revenue than U.S. men's games over the past three years. U.S. viewership of the 2019 Women's World Cup final was 22% higher than the 2018 men's final, according to a statement from Fox Sports.
The USWNT's lawsuit states that the Women's National Team Player's Association (WNTPA) has proposed a revenue-sharing model, describing a proposal that would tie player compensation to revenue generated by the women's national team for USSF, which the men's national team supports.
Currently, the bill has the support of 61 members of the House. In order to pass Congress, it will need to gain the support of 157 more representatives to reach the necessary majority.
Matsui, who along with Congressman Joe Morelle and Senator Mazie Hirono recently reintroduced legislation to would re-authorize and strengthen Title IX, is optimistic that the enthusiasm from the World Cup and the USWNT will provide momentum for the bill when Congress returns in the fall.
"This is all about timing, and we really wanted to get this all ready, get this going and introduce our bill so that by the time we come back in September, we'll have everything ready and hopefully by that time too we will have probably the re-authorization of Title IX moving."
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