Manchin bill seeks equal pay for women’s soccer team

WHEELING — A bill introduced Tuesday by Sen. Joe Manchin would halt any federal funding for the 2026 men’s World Cup games in North America until the four-time World Cup champion U.S. women’s team receives equal pay.

The 2026 men’s World Cup competition will be hosted jointly by the United States, Canada and Mexico, and plans call for most of the matches, the semi-finals and the final taking place in North America.

The U.S. women’s team defeated the team from the Netherlands 2-0 on Sunday to win their fourth World Cup title. The U.S. men’s team, meanwhile, failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

All 28 members on the women’s teams now have filed a federal suit against the U.S. Soccer Federation, alleging they are paid less than the men.

Manchin said the bill he introduced Tuesday was inspired by a letter he received from Nikki Izzo-Brown, women’s soccer coach at West Virginia University. The letter highlighted “her worries that women on the WVU Women’s Soccer Team could one day make the U.S. women’s team and not get paid the same as the men’s team,” according to Manchin.

“That’s just plain wrong,” Manchin said in a released statement. “That’s why 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. “They are the best in the world and deserve to be paid accordingly. I’m encouraging everyone to call their Senator and Representatives to help us get this bill passed and finally create a level playing field for all.”

Manchin’s bill would “prohibit the use of funds for the 2026 World Cup unless the United States Soccer Federation provides equitable pay to the members of the United States Women’s National Team and the United States Men’s National Team.”

It states no federal funds may be appropriated or otherwise made available to provide support for the 2026 World Cup. This would include support for a host city, a participating state or local agency, the United States Soccer Federation, the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football, or the Federation Internationale de Football Association, “until the date on which the United States Soccer Federation agrees to provide equitable pay to the members of the United States Women’s National Team and the United States Men’s National Team.”

Requests for additional comment from Manchin were not immediately returned Tuesday evening.

In her letter, Izzo-Brown requested Manchin’s support of the women’s soccer team’s fight for equal pay.

“The inequality of pay is unjust and this wage gap with the U.S. men’s national team has to stop,” she stated. “The women have won four titles, men none. The women’s viewership in the FIFA World Cup final outdrew the men in the United States by over three million. … Also, the women’s national team made revenue in 2016 where the men made a net loss.”

In the United States, 11.4 million men were reported to have watched the final, compared to 14.3 million women.

“Working with women as the women’s soccer coach at West Virginia University for over 24 years and earning 17 conference championships, 20 NCAA appearances, and producing 25 professional players, I believe first hand it is wrong for the U.S. Soccer women to be paid and valued less for their work because of gender.”

(King can be contacted at jking@theintelligencer.net)

COMMENTS