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Coronavirus is blocking the painstaking path to equal pay in sports

AP Photo/Jeffrey McWhorter
Long before coronavirus disrupted sports, the US women's national soccer team was battling the US federation for equal rights.
  • Minky Worden
By Minky Worden

Human Rights Watch

On Mar. 12, the US Soccer Association announced that all games schedule through April were canceled. This doesn’t come as a shock; sports industries all over the world, have been upended by the coronavirus pandemic. Even the 2020 Tokyo Olympics are postponed. But aside from the many disruptions of Covid-19, the US Women’s National Team has had to grapple with another man-made—(literally)—source of uncertainty, which has involved having to fight its own federation in court for the past year.

On Mar. 11, United States Soccer Federation president Carlos Cordeiro resigned following a firestorm of condemnation by sponsors, players, and the public over legal filings claiming that “indisputable science” proved that the players on the US Women’s National Team are inferior to the men. Shamefully, the US Soccer Federation also cited player Alex Morgan’s pregnancy and paid maternity leave in its argument to the US District Court to justify differential pay structures.

When the US Women’s Soccer team won the Women’s World Cup last July in France—their fourth since 1991—deafening chants of “Equal pay!” filled the stadium.  Their counterparts, the US men’s soccer team, have never advanced beyond World Cup quarterfinals, yet would have received pay six times that of the women’s team.

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