Senate

Democrats introduce equal pay legislation for US national team athletes

A group of Democratic female members of Congress on Thursday introduced a bill that would that would guarantee equal pay between U.S. national team athletes and personnel regardless of gender.

The “Even Playing Field Act” was introduced by Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.) and Patty Murray (Wash.) along with Reps. Jackie Speier (Calif.), Brenda Lawrence (Mich.), Lois Frankel (Fla.), Veronica Escobar (Texas) and Sylvia Garcia (Texas).

In the House the bill is being co-sponsored by more than 20 Democratic representatives.

“Next month, the U.S. women’s national teams will take the stage at the Summer Olympics, ready to bring home the gold,” Feinstein said in the announcement. “Unfortunately, despite numerous and repeated successes on the field, they continue to receive less financial support than their male counterparts. It’s time to even the playing field and ensure men and women’s national teams receive equal pay and resources within their respective sports.”

U.S. women’s national soccer team member Megan Rapinoe has become an outspoken advocate for equal pay, joining in a class-action lawsuit with 27 other team members against the United States Soccer Federation, accusing the organization of gender discrimination.

One central argument for equal pay between the soccer teams is that the women’s team has consistently outperformed the U.S. men’s national soccer team for many years now, being ranked No. 1 in the world and winning multiple World Cups and Olympic Gold Medals in recent years.

As The Washington Post reports, when the women’s team won the 2015 World Cup, members split a bonus of $1.73 million while in comparison the men’s team shared $5.38 million after losing in Round 16 of the 2014 World Cup.

The statement from the lawmakers pointed that apart from outperforming their male counterparts, the women’s team also generates more revenue according to a recent audit of the U.S. Soccer Federation’s financial statements. The women’s team generated $50.8 million while the men’s team generated $49.9 million.

“It is outrageous that even while winning more championships and gold medals than their male counterparts, our talented female athletes are still having to fight for equal pay,” Murray said. “This bill will make sure that female athletes representing our country don’t get shortchanged. But we can’t stop there — we need to make sure every single athlete, regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation or gender identity — gets the pay, dignity, and respect they deserve.”

Earlier this month, Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Maria Cantwell (Wash.) introduced the Give Our Athletes Level Salaries Act, which would prohibit “the use of funds for the 2026 World Cup unless the United States Soccer Federation provides equitable pay to the members of the United States Women’s National Team and the United States Men’s National Team.”

“The American athletes representing our country on the worldwide stage must be compensated equally — because a gold medal is a gold medal and a World Cup is a World Cup, no matter your gender,” Cantwell said.

Tags Brenda Lawrence Diane Feinstein Dianne Feinstein Gender pay gap Gender pay gap in sports Jackie Speier Joe Manchin Lois Frankel Maria Cantwell Maria Cantwell Megan Rapinoe Patty Murray Patty Murray Sylvia Garcia United States Soccer Federation Veronica Escobar
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