Washington, DC – Co-Chairs of the Democratic Women’s Caucus (DWC), Congresswomen Jackie Speier (CA-14), Lois Frankel (FL-21), Brenda L. Lawrence (MI-14), and DWC Vice Chairs, Congresswomen Veronica Escobar (TX-16) and Deb Haaland (NM-01), introduced the Even Playing Field Act of 2019 today with 28 cosponsors to ensure equal pay, investment, and working conditions for amateur athletes and other team personnel. Senator Feinstein (D-CA) is leading companion legislation in the U.S. Senate.
The U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT) captivated millions during the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup with their thrilling fourth World Cup title victory and their fight for equal pay. Despite being the most successful team in women’s soccer history, the USWNT continues to endure inequities in compensation, investment, and working conditions. U.S. Soccer pays the Women’s National Team as little as 38 cents on the dollar compared with the Men’s National Team despite the fact that from 2016 to 2018, the women’s games generated more revenue and had better viewership than the men’s games. Thus far, U.S. Soccer has failed to take accountability for its actions or answer calls for redress.
“It’s an outrage that women athletes have had to fight for equal pay when the only thing they should be fighting for is the world title or a gold medal,” Rep. Speier said. “The U.S. Women’s National Team – the greatest team in the sport’s history – deserves fair pay for not just equal, but superior work to their male counterparts despite being subjected to less investment and unacceptable working conditions. It’s time that the US led the way in pay equality for women athletes, and women in all occupations, so that paycheck fairness finally becomes the law of the land.”
“From U.S. Soccer to the Olympics, national sports play an important role in American life. Our daughters and sons deserve equal opportunities to participate and excel in every competition. This includes, but is not limited to, equal pay and training conditions, and equal compensation for the women and men who help them achieve their goals,” Rep. Frankel said.
“In this country we value hard work, but there is a disparity in pay between men and women that needs to be addressed at all levels. We must push for equal pay in all areas of the soccer federation,” Rep. Haaland said.
“In sport after sport, U.S. women’s national teams are achieving unprecedented success despite receiving less financial support than their male counterparts,” Sen. Feinstein said. “Imagine what they could accomplish on a level playing field. Equal pay and resources should be provided to both men’s and women’s teams competing under the U.S. banner. That would send clear and positive message to the rest of the world.”
The Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act outlines eligibility requirements and general duties of national governing bodies (NGBs), such as U.S. Soccer, that are selected by the U.S. Olympic Committee. If passed, the Even Playing Field Act would:
- Clarify eligibility requirements for NGBs to include demonstrating and providing investment, working conditions, wages and other compensation for amateur athletes, coaches, trainers, managers, administrators, and officials that is free from discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, age, or national origin.
- Stipulate that duties of NGBs include providing equitable support and encouragement for participation by women, including investment, working conditions, wages, and other compensation.
- Mandate that each NGB submit regular reports to Congress on their compensation practices disaggregated by race and gender.
The Even Playing Field Act is supported by the National Women’s Law Center, American Association of University Women, and the National Partnership for Women and Families.
The pay discrimination that USWNT is subject to also reinforces the need to pass H.R.7, the Paycheck Fairness Act, into law to finally put teeth into the Equal Pay Act of 1963. The Paycheck Fairness Act was passed in the House on March 27, 2019. It is awaiting consideration in the Senate.
Earlier this month, 52 Members of the House of Representatives signed a Democratic Women’s Caucus letter to U.S. Soccer calling these inequities indefensible and demanded answers from the Federation as to how it will remedy these injustices. We have not yet received a response from U.S. Soccer.
Click here for a copy of the bill text.