As U.S. Women’s National Team Returns Home With Their Fourth World Cup Championship, Senator Murray Introduces Legislation to Ensure Equitable Pay For Athletes
Inspired by the tremendous achievements and outspoken activism of the U.S. Women’s National Team, the Athletics Fair Pay Act would help to ensure that Olympic and amateur athletes are paid equitably, regardless of gender
In addition to the bill, Senator Murray joined every woman in the Senate to invite the U.S. Women’s National Team to meet with them during their upcoming trip to the Capitol
Senator Murray: “Not only did the U.S. Women’s National Team just dominate on the world stage in front of millions of people, they also inspired an entire generation of girls and boys to work hard, follow their dreams, and most importantly—stand up for what’s right”
(Washington, D.C.) – Yesterday, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, alongside Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), introduced the Athletics Fair Pay Act to help close the gender pay gap in Olympic and amateur sports. Female athletes, including the world champion U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team, are still often paid far less than their male counterparts.
“Not only did the U.S. Women’s National Team just dominate on the world stage in front of millions of people, they also inspired an entire generation of girls and boys to work hard, follow their dreams, and most importantly—stand up for what’s right,” said Senator Murray. “I’m thrilled the best soccer team in the world is being given a hero’s welcome home, but the only way to truly honor our National Team is to pay them what they so clearly deserve: equal pay for their far more than equal work. I’m proud to introduce this legislation and I’m going to keep fighting to ensure every woman—on and off the field—is paid fairly for her work.”
The U.S. women’s national team is the best soccer team in the world, winning four World Cups, including the 2015 and 2019 World Cups, and four Olympic gold medals. The team has been ranked number one in the world 10 of the past 11 years. Not only does the women’s national team outperform the men’s national team on the field, they also bring in more revenue. From 2016 to 2018, women’s games generated $50.8 million in revenue compared to $49.9 million for the U.S. men’s national team, according to an audit of the U.S. Soccer Federation’s financial statements.
Despite all of this, the U.S. Soccer Federation pays the women’s team just 38 cents of every dollar the men’s team makes. Earlier this year, the players on the U.S. Women’s National Team filed a discrimination lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation, and many of the players, including Seattle Reign stars Megan Rapinoe and Allie Long, have been vocal in their demands for equal pay. Additionally, Senator Murray introduced the Athletics Fair Pay Act in solidarity with their lawsuit, and also invited the U.S. Women’s National Team to meet with a bipartisan group of all 25 women Senators during their upcoming visit to the Capitol. This is by no means a new fight for Senator Murray, who also sent letters to the U.S. Soccer Federation in March 2019 and June 2016 calling on them to provide equal pay to its athletes.
The pay gap is not unique to women’s soccer. In 2017, the U.S. women’s national ice hockey team received a pay raise from its national governing body, USA Hockey, only after the team threatened to boycott a major competition.
The bill updates the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act to mandate that the national governing bodies for each Olympic sport pay female athletes fairly and equitably. It also requires the national governing bodies to provide annual reports to Congress on amateur athlete pay to ensure they’re complying with their equal pay obligations.
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