On Tuesday, the U.S. women's national soccer team reached a historic settlement with the U.S. Soccer Federation in their long-running lawsuit over unequal pay with the men's national team.
The agreement includes a $24 million payment to USWNT players and a promise from the Federation that the women and men's teams will be paid at an equal rate going forward in all friendlies and tournaments, including the World Cup.
"Getting to this day has not been easy," the players and U.S. Soccer said in a joint statement. "The U.S. Women's National Team players have achieved unprecedented success while working to achieve equal pay for themselves and future athletes."
In 2016, five U.S. women's soccer stars – Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, Hope Solo, Carli Lloyd and Becky Sauerbrunn – filed a discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Then in 2019, 28 members of the USWNT filed a lawsuit against the USSF for gender discrimination and unequal pay.
The settlement is contingent on the ratification of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement for USWNT and U.S. Soccer, which could take months as the Federation is seeking a single contract proposal that covers both the men and women's national teams.
According to the New York Times, this means that the players' union for the men's team will have to agree to share "millions of dollars in potential World Cup payments" from FIFA.
During the 2018 FIFA Men's World Cup in Russia, 32 teams competed for $400 million in prize money and as the champions, France was awarded $38 million by FIFA. The U.S. men's team, however, failed to qualify for the tournament.
Once the contract is approved, U.S. Soccer will pay $22 million to the players in the case as well as an additional $2 million into an account to support players in their "post-career goals and charitable efforts related to women's and girls' soccer," according to a statement from the Federation. Players can also apply for up to $50,000 from the fund.
The price tag is much smaller than the $67 million the women had requested for a settlement, the New York Times reports – and in an interview with NBC's "TODAY," Morgan said their efforts to create a more equitable work environment are far from over.
"U.S. Soccer has agreed to equalize the prize money moving forward, obviously we call on FIFA to truly equalize that for men's and women's tournaments," she said. "That's really what we set out to do. Equalize on all fronts."
Rapinoe told "TODAY" that she hopes Tuesday's settlement will bring all women's sports one step closer to achieving equal pay.
"I think we are really in the midst of an incredible turning point in women's sports," she said. "I think we're all going to look back on this moment with incredible pride … if you're not paying attention to this right now and what's happening in women's sports, you're sleeping on the whole thing."