The United States women’s national soccer team has reached a deal with the U.S. Soccer Federation that could resolve a yearlong dispute over equality issues including pay.
The USWNT and the U.S. Soccer Federation, the sport’s American governing body, ratified a new collective bargaining agreement Tuesday night ― just over a year since five top women’s players filed a complaint with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that asked for an investigation into what they said were discriminatory pay practices from the federation. It isn’t yet clear whether the agreement will immediately put an end the case in front of the EEOC.
The agreement came on the night of Equal Pay Day ― the date that marks how far into the year women must work to earn the same amount of pay men in the same jobs made the year before.
U.S. Soccer and the USWNT announced the deal in a joint statement Wednesday morning.
“We are pleased to announce that U.S. Soccer and the U.S. Women’s National Team Players Association have ratified a new collective bargaining agreement which will continue to build the women’s program in the U.S, grow the game of soccer worldwide, and improve the professional lives of players on and off the field,” the statement said. “We are proud of the hard work and commitment to thoughtful dialogue reflected through this process, and look forward to strengthening our partnership moving forward.”
The new agreement that will last five years won’t necessarily achieve full pay parity with U.S. Men’s National Team players, according to The New York Times. But it does make significant gains in compensation: Women’s players could soon make between $200,000 and $300,000 each year, roughly double what they made under the previous agreement, the Times reported. The team will receive per diems equal to those given to the men’s team and improvements in other areas, including travel and support for pregnant players, ESPNW reported.
Equal pay, though, was only part of the dispute between the two sides. The women had also challenged the federation over equal treatment, especially after it canceled a December 2015 friendly match in Hawaii because they felt the stadium’s turf field was unsafe. The new deal includes improvements on issues related to working conditions, the Times reported.
The agreement also raises standards and continues U.S. Soccer’s support of the National Women’s Soccer League, which began its unprecedented fifth season this spring.
The USWNT has been the world’s most successful women’s soccer team over the last two decades, winning three Women’s World Cup titles and four of the six Olympic gold medals since women’s soccer joined the games in 1996.
The team’s victory at the 2015 Women’s World Cup in Canada helped draw worldwide attention to pay disparities between men and women at the international level, and sparked the dispute with their federation at home too. The complaint filed with the EEOC drew political support in the U.S. Senate, where their fight became a symbol of the pay disparities women face in the workplace across the country. Last May, the Senate unanimously passed a non-binding resolution calling for equal pay for the women’s players.
The new agreement also follows the resolution of a similar dispute in women’s hockey. Last week, USA Hockey and the U.S. women’s national hockey team reached a deal to improve pay and compensation for those players, who planned to boycott the women’s world championship tournament without improvements in pay and financial support.