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Volume 26 No. 51
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USWNT Facing World Cup Pressure Amid Struggles By Men's Team

The USWNT enters the World Cup while in the midst of fighting for better conditions
Photo: U.S. Soccer

The USWNT as the defending World Cup champion "naturally carries pressure" into the '19 tournament, as players "shoulder their country’s entire soccer hopes" thanks to the USMNT's failure to qualify for the '18 World Cup, according to Rachel Bachman of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. USWNT players also "face the threat of rapidly improving teams in Europe that could end their dominance of the sport." And they are in the "middle of a distracting battle against the U.S. Soccer Federation in one of the highest-profile gender-discrimination lawsuits in sports history." In March, 28 members of the USWNT sued the USSF for "gender discrimination in pay and treatment" compared with the USMNT. The federation has said that "any differences in pay are because of the teams’ different collective-bargaining agreements and revenues." The USWNT enters a World Cup at the "vanguard of fighting for better conditions in women’s soccer." Ahead of the '15 World Cup in Canada, U.S. players "fought unsuccessfully against playing games on artificial turf." The USWNT's fight against the federation is part of a "growing trend in the global women’s game" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 6/7).

NO BETTER TIME THAN NOW: THE ATHLETIC's Meg Linehan wrote the USWNT as a whole has "proven to be a giant middle finger to the idea of 'sticking to sports.'" By "signing on to the lawsuit against their own federation, everyone on the squad has tacitly embraced a larger fight." For USWNT F Alex Morgan, her choice to "engage vocally in the political conversation is due in large part to the team's celebrity status -- especially in a World Cup year." Morgan said, "This team has the capability to create shockwaves throughout the world, and I think we have the platform to be able to do so." Linehan noted Morgan also made headlines last month after she said that if the team "earns an invite to the White House this summer after the World Cup, she's not going" (THEATHLETIC.com, 6/5).

AT THE HEART OF IT ALL: A USA TODAY editorial is written under the header, "Women's World Cup Runs A Manipulative Game Of Pay Inequity." For all its thrills, the Women’s World Cup is also "one giant, frustrating, grossly unfair, maddeningly manipulative engine of pay inequity." The "real culprit here is actually soccer’s global governing body, FIFA." This year, the payout will be $30M, "split among 24 teams with 23 players each." The payout "might seem large," and is double what was paid in '15, but "won’t go far when divvied up." Even when FIFA "realizes the full potential of the event, it will have to be pressured to be fair" (USATODAY.com, 6/6).