A bill to prevent any federal funding for the 2026 men’s World Cup until the U.S. Soccer Federation agrees to provide equal pay to the U.S. women’s and men’s national teams was introduced by Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) on July 9, 2019. Manchin’s bill comes just a few days after the U.S. women’s team swept its way to a second straight World Cup championship with a 2-0 victory over the Netherlands.

The bill withholds all federal funding for 2026 men’s World Cup preparations, including any and all funds provided to host cities; participating local and state organizations; the U.S. Soccer Federation, Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF), and Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA). Federal funds will be necessary for the tournament, such as when host cities ask for financial aid to provide proper infrastructure and security.

“I’m introducing legislation that will require the U.S. Soccer Federation to pay the men’s and women’s national soccer teams equitably before any federal funds may be used for the 2026 World Cup. The clear unequitable pay between the U.S. men’s and women’s soccer teams is unacceptable and I’m glad the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team latest victory is causing public outcry,” Manchin said in a statement. He added,

“They are the best in the world and deserve to be paid accordingly.”

The U.S. women’s team never trailed during the tournament and defeated the second, third, and fourth place teams on its way to the title. That big win, however, was also prefaced by major controversy.

In March, 28 members of the U.S. women’s team filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation accusing U.S. Soccer of “institutionalized gender discrimination,” a violation of the Equal Pay Act and the Civil Rights Act. In their lawsuit, the U.S women’s team alleges they receive far less money than the U.S. men’s team despite producing superior results.

More than 50 members of Congress have written to the U.S. Soccer Federation demanding to know why, despite all their success, players on the U.S. women’s team are still receiving inferior wages, working conditions, and investment. The U.S. women’s team earns less base pay from the U.S. Soccer Federation and makes less from their World Cup success, despite generating more revenue than the U.S. men’s team.

The 28 players and the U.S. Soccer Federation agreed to mediation in June, a sign their dispute could be headed toward a resolution. U.S. Soccer, which denied the claims, cited the collective bargaining agreement the women’s national team players signed in 2017, which is substantially different than the one U.S. Soccer has with the men’s national team.

 

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Photo of Gregg E. Clifton Gregg E. Clifton

Gregg E. Clifton is a Principal in the Phoenix, Arizona, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He is Co-Leader of the Collegiate and Professional Sports Practice Group and serves as the editor of the firm’s sports law blog.

Mr. Clifton has extensive experience in…

Gregg E. Clifton is a Principal in the Phoenix, Arizona, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He is Co-Leader of the Collegiate and Professional Sports Practice Group and serves as the editor of the firm’s sports law blog.

Mr. Clifton has extensive experience in the collegiate and professional sports world. He has advised numerous professional franchises on general labor and employment issues, including Title III ADA regulatory compliance and wage and hour issues. He serves as lead counsel for several Major League Baseball teams in their salary arbitration matters and has represented NCAA and NAIA collegiate clients regarding rules compliance, investigatory matters and in disciplinary hearings. In addition, he has handled Title IX investigations and compliance issues for NCAA and NAIA member institutions. Mr. Clifton has also worked extensively in the area of agent regulation and enforcement in professional and college sports and regularly provides counsel on issues relating to NCAA and NAIA amateurism issues and athlete eligibility questions. He has also served as an expert witness in matters involving sports agents’ work and responsibilities, as well as athlete compensation issues.

Prior to joining Jackson Lewis, he spent six years as Chief Operating Officer and Vice President of Team Sports for Gaylord Sports Management. He also served as President of the Athlete and Entertainment Division for famed sports attorney Bob Woolf’s firm, Woolf Associates, in Boston.

Mr. Clifton began his career as an Associate at Jackson Lewis where he focused his practice on traditional labor law. He continues to counsel clients in the areas of collective bargaining negotiations, representation cases, arbitrations and National Labor Relations Board matters.

Mr. Clifton frequently serves as an expert speaker to law schools, including Harvard University, Boston College, Hofstra University and Arizona State University, and bar associations regarding sports law issues, including agent regulation and salary arbitration. He is also often cited as an expert source in national news media for his commentary and opinion on legal issues in sports.