Proposed Bill Would Cut World Cup Funding Until USWNT Paid Equally
U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.) has introduced a bill that would "withhold federal funds" for the '26 FIFA World Cup "unless the men’s and women’s national teams are given equal pay," according to Tal Axelrod of THE HILL. Manchin in a statement yesterday said, "The clear [inequitable] 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's latest victory is causing public outcry." Manchin’s bill, if passed, would "threaten to cut off any and all funds for host cities and participating local and state organizations," the USSF, Concacaf and FIFA (THEHILL.com, 7/9). USA TODAY's Chris Bumbaca notes federal funds "will be necessary" for the '26 World Cup, between host cities "asking for financial aid to provide proper infrastructure and security and the State Department coordinating international travel for FIFA officials, for example" (USA TODAY, 7/10). Manchin said that he decided to introduce his bill "after getting a letter" from West Virginia Univ. women's soccer coach Nikki Izzo-Brown in which she told him that she "worries about players on her team one day making it to the U.S. women’s national team, only to be paid unfairly" (HUFFPOST.com, 7/9).
MAKING THE CASE: USWNT F Megan Rapinoe said she had a "brief conversation" with FIFA President Gianni Infantino about equal pay after the WWC final. She said, "Everyone realizes now that it's time for the next step. It's time to work together to get this to be a better place and be collaborative. Rapinoe: "If you're not down for equal pay at this point or equality or whatever it is, you're so far out of reality and the conversation that we can't even go there. It's time to move to the next phase, and nobody wants this contentious fight all the time" ("The Rachel Maddow Show," MSNBC, 7/9). More Rapinoe: "The movement is swelling before our very eyes. This is what the people want. Give the people what they want" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/10). In DC, Maese & Wallace write as the USWNT's post-World Cup celebration culminates with today's ticker-tape parade, the "full influence of the championship team will slowly start to reveal itself, measured by something bigger than youth soccer participation numbers or T-shirts sold." The team’s cause has "sparked widespread debate and both lionized and villainized some players." Legal and sports observers "say the lasting impact of the squad has the potential to transcend sports in a unique and unparalleled way, and its high-profile battle for equality could prove to be an influential one in a larger cultural war" (WASHINGTON POST, 7/10).
MS. RAPINOE GOES TO WASHINGTON? Rapinoe has "accepted an invitation" for the USWNT to "celebrate its World Cup victory with a visit to Congress." Rapinoe said that she had "accepted invitations" from U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to "go to Washington" (AP, 7/9). Rapinoe said of whether the team has been invited to the White House, "Not publicly and not to my knowledge, and certainly not in the way that everyone else is invited." She added, "I don't know if there's stuff going on behind the scenes, but obviously the first interaction was very public and it's very silent now" ("The Rachel Maddow Show," MSNBC, 7/9). Rapinoe also said she "would not" go to the White House if an invitation was extended. Rapinoe: "Every teammate that I've talked to exclusively about it would not go. I don't think anyone on the team has any interest in lending the platform we've worked so hard to build ... to be co-opted or corrupted by this administration" ("Anderson Cooper 360," CNN, 7/9). In Tampa, Martin Fennelly writes under the header, "Trump, U.S. Women’s Team Need An Ice Cream Social" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 7/10).
QUESTIONS AHEAD: The NWSL is in the middle of its seventh season, and in Philadelphia, Bob Ford writes there is still the question of whether a viable women's domestic soccer league is a "birthright or a goal that must pencil-out logically on corporate America’s bottom line." Former USWNTPA General Counsel John Langel said, "This is a significant time, and the public’s response is significant. I always thought it was incumbent on corporate America to pursue this not as a moral buy, but because it does make business sense. We’re seeing more of that, of corporate America recognizing the value of women’s viewership" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 7/10). NWSL Portland Thorns President of Business Mike Golub said, "You’ll see material upticks throughout the league in attendance, and I think you’ll see some major national sponsorships get announced in the coming weeks on the heels of this. This is definitely wind behind all of our backs" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 7/9).