Players of the United States Women's National Team have reached a landmark agreement with governing body U.S. Soccer, ending a long-running legal battle over equal pay for the country's female footballers.
After a six-year legal battle led by the players of the USWNT, who have won the last two editions of the FIFA Women's World Cup, U.S. Soccer has committed to providing an equal rate of pay for it's men's and women's national teams, including World Cup bonuses, subject to agreements with the teams' respective unions.
The agreement will also see the players split a lump sum of $22m, roughly one-third of what they originally sought in damages, and provides for a fund of $2m to support players after their playing careers and to aid charitable initiatives around the women's game.
The governing body and the USWNT players have released a joint statement, which reads as follows.
"We are pleased to announce that, contingent on the negotiation of a new collective bargaining agreement, we will have resolved our longstanding dispute over equal pay and proudly stand together in a shared commitment to advancing equality in soccer.
"Getting to this day has not been easy. The U.S. Women's National Team players have achieved unprecedented success while working to achieve equal pay for themselves and future athletes.
"Today, we recognise the legacy of the past USWNT leaders who helped make this day possible, as well as all of the women and girls who will follow.
"Together, we dedicate this moment to them.
"We look forward to continuing to work together to grow women's soccer and advance opportunities for young girls and women in the United States and across the globe."
The legal battle had raged since April 2016, and has been fraught with controversy, with former U.S. Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro quitting in 2020 after the federation submitted legal papers claiming women were physically inferior to men.
The USWNT overcame the off-pitch turmoil to lift their fourth FIFA Women's World Cup in 2019, beating the Netherlands 2-0 in the final in Lyon.
When we win, everyone wins!— Megan Rapinoe (@mPinoe) February 22, 2022
The announcement has been celebrated by several of the team's most influential stars, with former captain Megan Rapinoe discussing the settlement on ABC's Good Morning America.
"I'm just so proud, to be honest," she said. "I'm so proud of all the hard work that all of us did to get us here.
"It's a really amazing day. I think we're going to look back on this day and say this is the moment that U.S. Soccer changed for the better.
"We can't go back and undo the injustices that we faced, but the justice coming out of this is that we know that something like this is never going to happen again.
"We can move forward in making soccer the best sport we can in this country and set up the next generation so much better than we ever had it."
On the pitch, the team will face Iceland in their third and final group game of the SheBelieves Cup later this week, having followed up a goalless draw with the Czech Republic with a 5-0 hammering of New Zealand.
It's a historic day for us! It's been years and years of fighting for equality within our sport. Today we accomplished that with US Soccer! https://t.co/hUwJshkr2c— Alex Morgan (@alexmorgan13) February 22, 2022