U.S. women soccer players have reached a landmark agreement with the sport's American governing body to end a six-year legal battle over equal pay.
The U.S. Soccer Federation agreed to a payment of $24 million, $22 million of which will go to the players. That figure is about one-third of what they had sought in damages.
The other $2 million will establish a fund to benefit the players in their post-soccer careers and charitable efforts aimed at growing the sport for women.
As part of the settlement, the USSF agreed to pay women and men equal wages for all friendlies and tournaments, including the World Cup.
"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 players said in a joint statement posted to Twitter.
U.S. Soccer and @USWNT are proudly standing together in a shared commitment to advancing equality in soccer. pic.twitter.com/Sp8q7NY0Up— U.S. Soccer (@ussoccer) February 22, 2022
The settlement ends a years-long saga that began in 2016. That's when U.S. Women's National Team stars Becky Sauerbrunn, Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe and Hope Solo filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, claiming inequality in pay and treatment with their male counterparts. Later, in 2019, 28 members of the USWNT filed a lawsuit against U.S. Soccer, alleging further inequality in payment and compensation.
According to NBC News, even after the settlement, the pay disparity between men and women in international soccer remains stark. FIFA awarded $400 million in prize money to 32 teams who competed in the 2018 men's World Cup and $38 million to the tournament's winner. However, FIFA awarded just $30 million to the 24 teams in the women's World Cup in 2019, including $4 million to the winner.
USWNT has claimed four World Cup titles, including back-to-back titles in 2015 and 2019. The U.S. men have not qualified for a World Cup since 2014 and haven't placed higher than eighth in a World Cup since 1930.