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U.S. Soccer to Pay $24 Million to End Women’s Equal-Pay Suit

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U.S. Soccer has reached a $24 million agreement with the women’s national team to settle allegations that females were paid less than their male counterparts.

The deal, announced Tuesday in a joint statement, would resolve one of the biggest legal fights over equal pay for male and female athletes in U.S. sports. The elite U.S. women’s team sued in March 2019, saying they are paid less than the men’s team.

“We are pleased to announce that, contingent on the negotiation of a new collective bargaining agreement, we will have resolved our longstanding dispute over equal pay and proudly stand together in a shared commitment to advancing equality in soccer,” U.S. Soccer and the women’s national team said in the statement.

The women said their fight for equality isn’t over yet. Players are now shifting their sights to FIFA, international soccer’s governing association.

“It’s on notice for FIFA as it has been,” Megan Rapinoe, a star on the women’s national team, said during an online press conference Tuesday. “They should feel like they’re next.”

She said it would take aggressive, persistent and constant action to push FIFA to pay men and women equally.

“Clearly they’re really not all that motivated to do it on their own to do anything,” Rapinoe said. “It’s just a matter of them either feeling that the pressure is too much or, I don’t anticipate this, or a sudden change of heart and mind.”

U.S. Soccer’s pay discrepancy

A federal judge in Los Angeles initially tossed the suit after concluding women on the national team actually earned more than the men in 2017-2018 and that the pay discrepancy was due to differences the team negotiated in its collective bargaining agreements.

The women appealed, saying they earned more because they played more games and were more successful than the men. Oral arguments in the case had been scheduled for March 7.

Last year, the organization representing U.S. men’s soccer team players and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed court papers supporting the fight by the women’s national team. U.S. Soccer said in the statement Tuesday that it has “committed to providing an equal rate of pay going forward.”

“It’s a win for everyone,” Cindy Cone, U.S. Soccer Federation president, said at the Tuesday press conference. “For women in general.

The settlement has yet to be filed in court.

The case is Alex Morgan v. U.S. Soccer Federation, 19-cv-01717, U.S. District Court, District for Central California (Los Angeles).

(Updates with comments from press conference in fifth paragraph.)

With assistance from Erik Larson and Joe Schneider

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