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Dem Senators Threaten to De-Fund World Cup if No Equal Pay for Women’s Soccer

Congress can pull funding from a host city, a participating state or local agency...

A group of Senate Democrats introduced a bill this week that threatens to pull funding for the 2026 World Cup if U.S. Soccer Federation doesn’t grant “equal pay” to its women’s national soccer team.

The bill, dubbed the Give Our Athletes Level Salaries (GOALS) Act, calls for the prohibiting “the use of funds for the 2026 World Cup unless the U.S. Soccer Federation provides equitable pay to the members of the U.S. Women’s National Team and the U.S. Men’s National Team.”

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-WV, introduced the bill alongside Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wa.

He noted that while federal funds are not directly allocated to U.S. soccer, Congress can pull funding from “a host city, a participating state or local agency,” which would inevitably affect the World Cup.

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The U.S. Women’s soccer team players insisted that they have not been paid fairly since male players were paid more than them.

They even filed a lawsuit against the federation in 2019, alleging the organization was forcing them to work under inequitable working conditions.

The U.S. Soccer Federation dismissed the allegations, arguing that female players technically made less because they rejected a pay-to-play structure like the men’s agreement and also accepted greater base salaries and benefits.

A district court sided with the federation in a May ruling. 

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“In sum, [US Soccer] has offered evidence in support of its Motion for Summary Judgment that the [women’s national team] has been paid more on both a cumulative and an average per-game basis than the [men’s national team] over the class period,” the judge wrote.

A few months later, though, the women’s team and the federation reached a settlement agreement that mandates charter flights, hotel accommodations, venue selection, and professional staff support be equal to that of the men’s national team.

The agreement also allows the female players to appeal the district court’s ruling.

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