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USWNT, US Soccer settle equal pay lawsuit for $24 million

(Jesse Louie/Just Women's Sports)

The U.S. Soccer Federation has reached a settlement with the U.S. women’s national team players who sued the federation for pay discrimination in 2019. The sides announced a resolution on Tuesday, with U.S. Soccer agreeing to commit $22 million in back pay as direct compensation to the players and promising equal pay between the men’s and women’s senior teams at all levels of competition.

The federation will put an additional $2 million into a fund to assist athletes in their post-playing careers and charitable endeavors. Each player will be eligible to apply for up to $50,000 from the fund. Players will determine the distribution of the $22 million, which is then subject to court approval.

The deal is contingent on the ratification of a new collective bargaining agreement between the federation and the USWNT Players Association. The sides are currently under a memorandum of understanding that runs through March.

In a joint statement on Tuesday, the USWNTPA and the federation said that they “proudly stand together in a shared commitment to advancing equality in soccer.”

“Today, we recognize the legacy of the past USWNT leaders who helped make this day possible, as well as all of the women and girls who will follow. Together, we dedicate this moment to them.”

Previously, the players had been seeking $66.7 million in back pay, with an appeal hearing in the lawsuit set for March 7.

Now, the two sides will look to ratify a new CBA and encourage FIFA to implement equal pay at the international level. U.S. Soccer president Cindy Parlow Cone addressed FIFA’s role in the equal pay case during a conversation with Just Women’s Sports in November.

“My ideal vision is for FIFA to equalize not only the World Cup prize money, but to equalize their investment in the women’s and girls’ game,” she said. “It’s a broader vision for me than just solving the litigation — although I would love to just solve the litigation, too. But until FIFA equalizes it, it’s up to us. And by us, I mean U.S. Soccer, the women’s team and the men’s team coming together to find a solution.”

Cone is currently running against Carlos Cordeiro in the U.S. Soccer presidential election, which will be held on March 5.