WASHINGTON (WDVM) — May 18, 2022, will go down in sports and gender history! A landmark agreement gives U.S. women’s soccer players the same money as men. The equal pay announcement comes just a month ahead of the 50th anniversary of Title IX. The Women’s National Team is set to participate in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar this November.

After six long years and multiple lawsuits, the United States Women’s National Soccer team has reached a new, first-of-its-kind collective bargaining agreement that achieves actual equal pay for female soccer players. The legal battle began when five American stars, including Megan Rapinoe, Becky Sauerbrunn, and Alex Morgan, filed a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in April 2016. The players sued three years later, seeking $66 million in damages under the federal Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

Angela Salem, former National Women’s Soccer League player and now assistant coach of the Washington Spirit, was more than proud of the achievement, especially ahead of the Spirit’s clash with the Portland Thorns.

“This is especially exciting for young players who have the opportunity to be a part of the change and be a part of the perks that this will have for them and to be able to focus on soccer and feel the value of being a professional athlete and representing their country.”

The new agreement is identical to the CBA used by the Men’s National team and ensures the Women’s team will:

  • Make the same amount for playing in games, including bonuses based on the outcome of the game
  • Earn half of the pooled prize money won by both teams during the World Cup
  • Play at venues and fields of equal quality
  • Earn half of the designated revenue raised from U.S. Soccer broadcasts, apparel, and sponsorships

The agreement also includes childcare, parental leave, 401K benefits, and mental health support.

Kaitlin Brennan, program director of Leveling the Playing Field‘s Baltimore chapter, highlights how the CBA could create new sports opportunities for young women and girls.

“I think we’re just now at a point through their CBA that these professional athletes don’t have to work outside jobs that they’re finally being paid a livable wage to perform that amazing, an amazing feat,” Brennan said.

This new agreement for Whitman High School freshman and lifelong soccer player Evelyn Javers means more than equal compensation. She was beaming with pride to say she was a fan of the USWNT and for the team’s monumental achievement.

“Obviously, this sets like a precedent for all little girls out there seeing them and being able to look up to them and seeing that they matter as much as men do, and it’s just all across the board that we’re equal,” Javers said. “This hopefully will mean that we can, like we can, be just as important in everyone else’s eyes.”

Javers also thanked the players who tirelessly fought for equal pay.

“Thank you for sticking up for them and for us, because this kind of relates towards every little girl out there and every single woman playing soccer. So definitely thank you,’ Javers said.

The U.S. Soccer Federation and members of the USWNT announced a deal on Tuesday that will have players split $22 million. U.S. Soccer also agreed to establish a fund with $2 million to benefit the players in their post-soccer careers and charitable efforts to grow the sport for women.

Paint Branch high school girls’ soccer head coach Jeanette Smith, who played at the school and collegiately at Mount St. Mary’s, adds that she thinks the equal pay news, will inspire her players even more.

“A lot of them will be happy to know that their hard work isn’t in vain,” Smith said. “I mean some of them go on to the next level and then they kind of hit that wall, that stale mate, where they know they’re not going to make as much as so they try to find other things to do and I think that them knowing that the limit literally doesn’t exist anymore, that the possibilities are endless, I think is so cool for them and it’s so empowering.”