The U.S. women’s national soccer team is no stranger to winning — yet this week’s victory closing the gender pay gap between the squad and its male counterpart must taste especially sweet. The battle was as hard-fought as any match, and the prize is worth more to all of sports than any trophy.
The U.S. Soccer Federation announced on Wednesday that collective bargaining with the men’s and women’s national teams had resulted in a deal to equalize salaries and bonuses. This final hurrah comes after years of argument between the women’s team and the national governing body, including a lawsuit settled last year for $24 million. During this confrontation, the athlete-employees continued working hard for their employer on the pitch — defeating the globe’s best time and time again with their usual panache. The United States is now the first country to reach equal pay for its men’s and women’s soccer teams. Ideally, it will be far from the last.
That the U.S. women’s soccer team was mistreated from the start shouldn’t come as a surprise; after all, the scourge of gender discrimination extends across professions. This case, however, was especially egregious. At the outset of this dispute, the female players weren’t only making less money than the male players. They were playing more often on artificial turf and flying less often on chartered planes. A previous U.S. Soccer head justified this by allowing his lawyers to argue it was “indisputable science” that women’s soccer was inferior.