As the USWNT continues its fight for equal pay against U.S. Soccer, which is supposed to enter into mediation soon, Democratic lawmakers in both the House and the Senate have introduced legislation that would withhold federal funding from the 2026 World Cup (hosted by North America) if the men’s and women’s national teams weren’t paid equally. U.S. Soccer doesn’t like this development, and according to Politico, they’ve hired and dispatched a pair of D.C. lobbying firms to try and fight back.
Based on a presentation that Politico acquired, those lobbyists seem to be relying on heavily distorted information to make their case to Congress. The argument laid out on those few slides place the blame for the pay gap squarely on FIFA, and their unequal prize money for men’s and women’s tournaments. Elsewhere, it implies that the women’s CBA is much better than the men’s by moving the goalposts to include NWSL compensation and ignoring specifics about the USMNT’s bonus payouts. It also laughably tries to compare men’s and women’s compensation in 2018 to settle the issue—ignoring that the women played nearly twice as many games that year and were much more successful.
It’s true that, as the presentation notes, the women’s team negotiated a guaranteed annual salary instead of the higher per-game bonuses that the men have in their CBA. And it’s true that FIFA needs to step up their prize money for women’s competitions. But as the Washington Post calculated last month, pay for friendlies, which is handled by U.S. Soccer, would still be unequal even if both teams worked the same amount and achieved the same level of success. If each U.S. team played and won 20 games in a year, according to the paper, the women would make only 89 percent of what the men make. Only if both teams lost all 20 games in that scenario would compensation be equal.
What’s especially frustrating about these lobbyist hires is that U.S. Soccer could be doing so much to actually fulfill its mission of growing the sport (or, you know, pay its women) with the hundreds of thousands they’re likely spending on these firms. Statements from both the men’s and women’s teams echoed as much. A spokeswoman for the USWNT players said to Politico that she was “stunned and disappointed” that U.S. Soccer “would spend sponsor dollars and revenue to advocate against laws that ensure that women are paid equally to men.”
The men’s team, fresh off shredding U.S. Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro last week for a bullcrap letter intending to show that his federation invests more in women’s soccer than men’s, gave a similar statement.
“If instead of paying lawyers and lobbyists to litigate, arbitrate and lobby against current and former players and just about everyone else in the sport they instead negotiated in good faith to enter agreements to advance soccer in the US, we would all be in a better place.”