WASHINGTON ― Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) introduced a bill Tuesday that would prevent any federal funding for the 2026 World Cup until the U.S. Soccer Federation agrees to provide equal pay to the U.S. women’s and men’s national teams.
The bill would cut off “any and all” federal money that would otherwise be spent when the United States co-hosts the men’s World Cup in 2026. That includes funds that go to host cities, participating local and state organizations, U.S. Soccer, the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football, and the international soccer governing body FIFA.
“The clear unequitable pay between the U.S. men 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. “I’m encouraging everyone to call their Senator and Representatives to help us get this bill passed and finally pay the equitable pay they deserve.”
Here’s a copy of his bill:
A spokesperson for the U.S. Soccer Federation did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.
According to Manchin’s office, federal money can be and will likely be used in a variety of ways for the men’s international soccer tournament. The State Department, for example, must issue visa waivers and other special privileges to visiting FIFA officials. Host cities need money to provide infrastructure and security for the games. Sporting facilities seeking assistance for upgrades may look to federal grants.
The legislation comes days after the U.S. women’s national team won the World Cup for the fourth time ― and after 28 members of the team filed a lawsuit accusing U.S. Soccer of “institutionalized gender discrimination,” a violation of the Equal Pay Act and the Civil Rights Act. More than 50 members of Congress wrote to U.S. Soccer last week 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.
Manchin said he decided to introduce his bill after getting a letter from Nikki Izzo-Brown, the head coach for the women’s soccer team at West Virginia University. She told him she worries about players on her team one day making it to the U.S. women’s national team, only to be paid unfairly.
“That’s just plain wrong,” he said.
Here’s the text of Izzo-Brown’s letter to the senator:
Dear Senator Manchin,
Hello! I am writing this letter requesting your support of the United States Women’s National Soccer Team fight for equal pay. The inequality of pay is unjust and this wage gap with the US men’s national team has to stop. The woman have won four titles, men none; the woman’s viewership in the FIFA World Cup final outdrew the men in the United States by over three million (men 11.4 , woman 14.3). Also, the women’s national team made revenue in 2016 where the men made a net loss.
Working with women as the Women’s Soccer Coach at West Virginia University for over twenty four years and earning 17 Conference Championships, 20 NCAA appearances, and producing 25 professional players, I believe first hand, it is wrong for the US Soccer women to be paid and valued less for their work because of gender.
Thank you for your time and consideration in this matter.
I look forward to hearing from you!
Head Women’s Soccer Coach
West Virginia University