US House Passes Equal Pay Bill For US Women In International Sporting Events

In a landmark victory for the US women’s soccer team and women’s sport at large, the House has passed a bill that ensures equal pay for US women competing in international athletic events.

2023 has been a significant year for women in sport, gifting us extraordinary performances that will live on in our collective consciousness for years to come. But while these milestones on the court, field or athletics track have certainly been exciting to watch, they have also been coloured by a continued fight for equality in sport, with female athletes demanding equal pay. Though it’s an argument that continues across all sporting codes, for those in the United States, a landmark has been achieved as the House has passed a bill ensuring equal compensation for US women competing in international events. 

The bill, titled The Equal Pay for Team USA Act, will require all athletes representing the United States in global competition to receive equal pay and benefits in their sport, regardless of gender. It covers more than 50 national sports in America and also requires the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee to handle oversight. Having passed the Senate with unanimous support, it will now land on the desk of US President Joe Biden. 

A major celebration for US athletes and women’s sport at large, the bill is largely owing to the long-running campaign of the US women’s soccer team who have fought to be paid as much as the men. Despite most Olympic sports in the US meeting USOPC standards when it comes to equal compensation, in the world of football great disparities continued to plague the sport, particularly in terms of international events like the World Cup. 

To put things into consideration, the 2022 FIFA World Cup saw the organisation doll out $440 million in prize money to the 32 men’s teams competing at this year’s tournament. In contrast, just $30 million in prize money was split between the 24 women’s teams competing at the 2019 tournament – a price tag that isn’t just significantly less than overall earnings, but also shy of the $42 million the men’s winning team received. 

Consequently, in 2019, the US women’s team filed a federal gender discrimination lawsuit against US soccer, before signing a new collective bargaining agreement earlier this year that included identical pay structures for men and women, along with equitable distribution of World Cup prize money. 

As US Soccer President Cindy Parlow Cone said in a statement, “By sending this legislation to the President, both houses have sent a clear message that this is the standard for all National Teams in all sports and it underscores the importance of working with our athletes to achieve equal pay including equalising international prize money.”

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