Legislation supporting USWNT's fight for equal pay introduced in Congress

The United States women's national team gained more support in its equal pay fight on Tuesday in the form of legislation from two Democratic congresswomen. A bill was introduced that would block federal funding for the 2026 World Cup, set to be hosted by the United States, Mexico and Canada, until the USWNT is "paid fair and equitable wages compared" to the men's team. 

Congresswoman Doris Matsui, who represents California's sixth district in the Bay Area, along with Rosa DeLaura, a representative from Connecticut, introduced the bill called the GOALS act, or the Give Our Athletes Level Salaries Act. The act has support from 61 members of the House of Representatives and needs 157 more votes to reach 218, the number needed to become the majority and move on to the Senate.

The USWNT filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation in March, claiming unfair and unequal support, marketing efforts and pay, among other things. Many fans, celebrities and politicians have come forward to support the players since their fight began. Their platform and outreach grew as the USWNT won the 2019 World Cup earlier this month in France.

Congresswoman Matsui noted the impact of the women's team in a press release saying, "The U.S. women's national team united our country and inspired the next generation of young women to pursue their dreams. Stars like Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan, and Rose Lavelle have used their stardom to elevate the issue of pay inequality in this country and inspire women across the nation to demand no less than what they deserve — equal pay for equal work."

DeLauro added in the press release: "From their victory in the World Cup to the ticker tape parade, chants of 'equal pay' have followed the U.S. soccer women's national team everywhere they go. Rightfully so. They are the best in the world."

The bill has the support of the National Organization for Women, which said it hopes the legislation "will take important steps in pressuring the USSF to do what is right."

The wording used in the bill could be part of a larger discussion in this case. "Equal" vs. "equitable" has been a topic of conversation throughout the fight, and retired USWNT Abby Wambach has made note of the difference. 

The federation has responded to the USWNT lawsuit saying the men's and women's national teams are "are physically and functionally separate organizations that perform services for U.S. Soccer in physically separate spaces and compete in different competitions, venues and countries at different times; have different coaches, staff and leadership; have separate collective bargaining agreements; and have separate budgets that take into account the different revenue that the teams generate."

The women's team broke down the revenue, games played and difference in travel and training conditions in their fight there have been violations of the Equal Pay Act, which prohibits wage discrimination between men and women who perform similar jobs, and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employers from discriminating against employees based on sex, race, color, national origin and religion.

The 2026 World Cup is expected to be the most profitable by a significant amount, so any discussion over the funding holds a lot of weight. The United States, Canada and Mexico beat out Morocco to host the event. 

Our Latest Stories