By Sarah Lafen
Impunity Watch Desk Reporter, North America
WASHINGTON D.C., United States — On Tuesday, the United States’ women’s national soccer team and U.S. Soccer, the team’s governing body, agreed to a new five-year agreement. The new agreement follows a year-long dispute over demands for equal pay. The team’s previous agreement expired in 2012, but was extended while negotiations took place. Some players brought the situation to court to explore the possibility of going on strike to protest a lack of progress in negotiations, however U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman ruled against the players last year.
While the new agreement will not match the women’s national team pay with the men’s national soccer team pay, it does outline better working conditions, travel arrangements, increase per diem stipends, and match bonuses. Because the agreement will last through 2021, the team will not have to renegotiate terms for upcoming major events, such as the 2019 World Cup and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati called the agreement an “important step” for women’s soccer. Gulati praised the agreement and said that “[it] helps to ensure the strength of the women’s national team, provide stability and growth potential for the National Women’s Soccer League, and over time strengthen the elite player development process at the grassroots level.”
U.S. women’s team veteran Megan Rapinoe said she was “very proud” of the team throughout the negotiation process. Rapione thinks there is still progress to be made for the women’s team and women in general, the Women’s National Team Players Association should be proud of their accomplishment with the new agreement. National team player Alex Morgan said the agreement “felt very empowering.” Morgan commented that she “felt really happy with the agreement that [they] reached and the fact that [they] can now do what [they] came for and play soccer.”
The agreement was reached on National Equal Pay Day, which is the date that marks how far into the year women have to work in order to earn the same amount of pay that men made the previous year. The women’s soccer agreement mirrors that of the women’s national hockey team. Last week, USA Hockey and the U.S. women’s national hockey team reached an agreement to improve compensation. Some of the women’s national hockey team players threatened to boycott the women’s world championship tournament unless they saw improvements in pay and financial support.
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