October 15, 2019

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Senate Bill Proposes Equal Pay for U.S. Women’s Soccer Team

A bill to prevent any federal funding for the 2026 men’s World Cup until the U.S. Soccer Federation agrees to provide equal pay to the U.S. women’s and men’s national teams was introduced by Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) on July 9, 2019. Manchin’s bill comes just a few days after the U.S. women’s team swept its way to a second straight World Cup championship with a 2-0 victory over the Netherlands.

The bill withholds all federal funding for 2026 men’s World Cup preparations, including any and all funds provided to host cities; participating local and state organizations; the U.S. Soccer Federation, Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF), and Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA). Federal funds will be necessary for the tournament, such as when host cities ask for financial aid to provide proper infrastructure and security.

“I’m introducing legislation that will require the U.S. Soccer Federation to pay the men’s and women’s national soccer teams equitably before any federal funds may be used for the 2026 World Cup. The clear unequitable pay between the U.S. men’s and women’s soccer teams is unacceptable and I’m glad the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team latest victory is causing public outcry,” Manchin said in a statement. He added,

“They are the best in the world and deserve to be paid accordingly.”

The U.S. women’s team never trailed during the tournament and defeated the second, third, and fourth place teams on its way to the title. That big win, however, was also prefaced by major controversy.

In March, 28 members of the U.S. women’s team filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation accusing U.S. Soccer of “institutionalized gender discrimination,” a violation of the Equal Pay Act and the Civil Rights Act. In their lawsuit, the U.S women’s team alleges they receive far less money than the U.S. men’s team despite producing superior results.

More than 50 members of Congress have written to the U.S. Soccer Federation demanding to know why, despite all their success, players on the U.S. women’s team are still receiving inferior wages, working conditions, and investment. The U.S. women’s team earns less base pay from the U.S. Soccer Federation and makes less from their World Cup success, despite generating more revenue than the U.S. men’s team.

The 28 players and the U.S. Soccer Federation agreed to mediation in June, a sign their dispute could be headed toward a resolution. U.S. Soccer, which denied the claims, cited the collective bargaining agreement the women’s national team players signed in 2017, which is substantially different than the one U.S. Soccer has with the men’s national team.

Jackson Lewis P.C. © 2019

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Associate

Carmen F. Francella III is an Associate in the Boston, Massachusetts, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He has experience handling a wide variety of complex litigation matters, including government investigations and white collar criminal defense.

Mr. Francella has experience representing clients during investigations and enforcement actions undertaken by the U.S. Department of Justice, Securities and Exchange Commission, Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, and various other state and federal agencies. He has also represented companies, executives and other...

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Gregg E. Clifton, Collegiate Sports Attorney, Jackson Lewis, disciplinary hearings Lawyer
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Gregg E. Clifton is Office Managing Principal of the Phoenix, Arizona, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He is Co-Leader of the Collegiate and Professional Sports Practice Group and serves as one of the editors of the firm’s sports law blog.

Mr. Clifton has extensive experience in the collegiate and professional sports world. He has advised numerous professional franchises on general labor and employment issues, including Title III ADA regulatory compliance and wage and hour issues. He serves as lead counsel for several Major League Baseball teams in their salary arbitration matters and has represented NCAA and NAIA collegiate clients regarding rules compliance, investigatory matters and in disciplinary hearings. In addition, he has handled Title IX investigations and compliance issues for NCAA and NAIA member institutions. 

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