Rapinoe renews call for gender pay equity in House testimony

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.

In 2019, Rapinoe and her teammates filed a landmark gender discrimination lawsuit against the US football federation- REUTERS

U.S. women's national football 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 teammates.

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 teammates filed a landmark gender discrimination lawsuit against the 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."

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.

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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 the federation 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," Rapinoe said.

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 honors, in a defining year in which she harnessed her celebrity to tackle political issues.

The women's team is set to compete in the upcoming Olympics, though the roster has not been set.

'Pay gap is real' - Biden

U.S. President Joe Biden made the case that the pay disparity between men and women has hurt the economy, bringing members of the U.S. women’s national football team to the White House to help set new goals for equality.

Wednesday marked "Equal Pay Day" — which is how far into the year women must work on average to make up the pay disparity between what men and women earned the prior year. The Census Bureau estimates that a woman working full-time would earn about 82 cents for each dollar paid to a man.

Biden and his wife, Jill, hosted a roundtable with Margaret Purce and Megan Rapinoe of the U.S. women’s national football team, and other members of the squad who attended virtually. The president then signed a proclamation honouring the day.

"Doesn't matter if you're an electrician, an accountant or part of the best damn football team in the world," Biden said.

"The pay gap is real. And this team is living proof that you can be the very best at what you do and still have to fight for equal pay."

- PTI