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To get equal pay, senator aims at men’s World Cup

Posted at 5:33 PM, Jul 10, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-10 19:33:13-04

Sen. Joe Manchin thinks he’s found a way to force US Soccer’s governing body to pay its female players the same as its men.

The West Virginia Democrat has proposed stopping all federal funds that would be used to help the US host the 2026 men’s World Cup games until US Soccer agrees to “provide equitable pay” to the men’s and women’s teams.

“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,” Manchin said in a statement Tuesday. “They are the best in the world and deserve to be paid accordingly.”

Manchin introduced the bill on Tuesday. It had no co-sponsors as of Wednesday afternoon.

It’s not yet clear how Manchin’s Senate-based efforts will pan out. The 2026 tournament will be spread through venues across the US, Canada and Mexico, and the US-based locales will all be in cities with existing venues. So even if Manchin’s bid to withhold federal funding works, it’s unclear just how much money would actually be withheld.

Before heading into the monthlong World Cup tournament, members of the US women’s team filed a lawsuit against the US Soccer Federation, demanding equal pay and saying they have been subjected to unsafe working conditions.

That legal volley became a rallying cry for both the team and its supporters as the US defeated country after country to eventually win the World Cup. After the championship game, chants of “equal pay, equal pay!” filled the 60,000-person stadium in France.

The team’s equal pay push was also on display Wednesday, as the winning women paraded (literally) through the streets of New York in an iconic ticker-tape parade. The refrain was peppered through celebrations (like when midfielder Allie Long pretended to eat a page from the lawsuit while goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris said, “pay us, [expletive]” in a social media post).

The Point: There’s increasing public pressure on US Soccer, but it’s not clear if Manchin’s bill will be what forces the federation’s hand.