U.S. women's national team star Megan Rapinoe renewed her call for gender pay equity on Wednesday, appearing before a congressional panel and pledging to "carry this torch" alongside her team-mates.
Rapinoe told the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, the World Cup winners had exceeded the accomplishments of their male counterparts but received inadequate compensation and playing conditions, two years after she and her team-mates filed a landmark gender discrimination lawsuit against U.S. Soccer.
"There is no level of status, accomplishments, or power that will protect you from the clutches of inequity," Rapinoe said in her written testimony in honor of Equal Pay Day. "The women's national team has won four World Cup championships and four Olympic gold medals on behalf of our country. We have filled stadiums, broken viewing records, and sold out jerseys, all popular metrics by which we are judged."
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U.S. Soccer, which argued in 2019 that the women's team had been compensated more than the men's over the last decade, said it applauded Rapinoe's position as a "champion for equal pay."
"My hope is the players will accept our standing invitation to meet and find a path forward that serves the women’s team now and in the future," U.S. Soccer President Cindy Parlow Cone said in a written statement. "We, too, are committed to equal pay."
The U.S. women's national team players sued their governing body in 2019, alleging gender discrimination in a lawsuit that contained complaints over wages and playing conditions.
The complaint loomed large as the team went on claim their fourth World Cup title in France that summer, and fans backed them up, chanting "equal pay" during the World Cup final match.
In May 2020, a United States District Court judge for the Central District of California threw out players' claims that they were underpaid in comparison with the men's team.
The players and U.S. Soccer reached a settlement in December over working conditions, including hotel and travel accommodations, clearing a path for an appeal over equal pay.
We put in just as much work, we train just as hard. We compete to bring trophies back to the United States, bring gold medals back to the United States.
The women's team is set to compete in the upcoming Olympics, though the roster has not been set.
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Rapinoe won the Golden Boot and Golden Ball at the U.S. team's successful 2019 World Cup, en route to claiming the Ballon d'Or and Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year honours, in a defining year in which she harnessed her celebrity to tackle political issues.
President Joe Biden is expected to host an event with Rapinoe, teammate Margaret Purce and other players later Wednesday.
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