United States women's national team players Megan Rapinoe and Margaret Purce visited the White House on Wednesday for an event on Equal Pay with President Joe Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden. Both Purce and Rapinoe delivered remarks alongside President and Dr. Biden at an event to discuss and raise awareness on the importance of equal pay.
"The strength of unequal pay rests on the notion of unequal value. It is an issue of equity," Purce said in introductory comments. "I have watched and joined a league of women who are remarkable at their craft. And together we have asked for the same grace that was extended to men in the formative years of their leagues to investment. ...You would never expect a flower to bloom without water, but women in sport who have been denied water, sunlight and soil are somehow expected to blossom. Invest in women, then let's talk again when you see the return."
Earlier in the day, Rapinoe testified at a hearing titled "Honoring 'Equal Pay Day': Examining the Long-Term Economic Impacts of Gender Inequality" and discussed the lawsuit brought by members of the United States women's national soccer team against U.S. Soccer. The USWNT has been in an ongoing back and forth with U.S. Soccer throughout the lawsuit, and Rapinoe fielded questions from politicians on the disparities USWNT player have faced in defense of the lawsuit. She also touched on the differences between NCAA Men's and Women's college basketball tournaments, and expressed solidarity with transgender athletes.
"I firmly stand with the trans family and that whole community and as someone who has played sports with someone who is trans, I can assure you all is well, nothing is spontaneously combusting," Rapinoe said.
"With the lack of proper investment, we don't really know the real potential of women's sports," Rapinoe added. "What we know is how successful women's sports have been in the face of discrimination, in the face of gender disparity, in the face of a lack of investment on virtually every single level in comparison to men."
U.S. Soccer president Cindy Parlow Cone, herself a former U.S. national team player, released a statement following Rapinoe's testimony.
"Megan has always represented the United States Women's National Team and our country with honor and distinction," the statement read. "We thank and applaud Megan for being a champion for equal pay. With our new leadership at U.S. Soccer and so much to look forward to, my hope is the players will accept our standing invitation to meet and find a path forward that serves the women's team now and in the future. We, too, are committed to equal pay. In the meantime, U.S. Soccer will continue to be a global leader in investing in women's soccer to drive the growth of the women's game across the world."
When introducing the President during the Equal pay event, also virtually attended by additional members of the USWNT, Rapinoe echoed Purce's initial comments and reiterated the need to continue to fight for equality.
"Beyond the cheers and the gestures, there is so much real work to be done on policies that continue to support equal pay, but also continue to fight against these injustices and inequalities," Rapinoe said. "And not just for ourselves, but for those who are coming after us, who are watching us -- potentially watching today thinking to themselves, what may be possible for their future."