Women's soccer
Image courtesy of US Soccer

The United States women’s soccer team and the sport’s national governing body ended a six-year legal fight over equal pay by agreeing to a settlement that included a multimillion-dollar payment to the players and a promise to equalize pay between the men’s and women’s national teams, the New York Times reported Tuesday.

The athletes will share $24 million in payments from the federation, U.S. Soccer, under the terms of the agreement that was announced Tuesday. According to the New York Times, the bulk of that money is back pay, an indication that the compensation for the men’s and women’s teams had been unequal for years.

In addition to the bulk payment, U.S. Soccer pledged to equalize pay between the men’s and women’s national teams in all competitions, including World Cup, in the next collective bargaining agreements for the teams. The change could mean millions of dollars for a new generation of women’s players, a pay gap that was once seen as an unbridgeable divide.

The players filed a gender discrimination lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Central District of California in 2019, a case that was dismissed by a judge in April 2020. A settlement resolves the claim and is contingent on the ratification of a new contract between U.S. Soccer and the players’ union for the women’s team.

“It wasn’t an easy process to get to this point for sure,” U.S. Soccer’s president, Cindy Parlow Cone, told the New York Times in a telephone interview. “The most important thing here is that we are moving forward, and we are moving forward together.”

As part of the settlement, the women’s players agreed to release the federation from all remaining claims in the team’s gender discrimination lawsuit.

The U.S. women’s team has won four World Cups since the program’s start in 1985. The U.S. men’s team has not reached a World Cup semifinal since 1930.

The existing labor contract between the U.S. women and the U.S. Soccer Federation expires March 31.

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