U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin introduced a bill Tuesday that would prevent federal funding from being used for the 2026 World Cup until the U.S. Soccer Federation agrees to play the American men’s and women’s teams equally.
The United States is scheduled to host the 2026 men’s World Cup in conjunction with Mexico and Canada. If passed, Manchin’s bill would deny any and all federal funds provided to host cities; participating local and state organizations; the U.S. Soccer Federation, Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF), and Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA).
Manchin said the bill was prompted out of a letter he received from WVU women’s soccer coach Nikki Izzo-Brown.
“I received a letter from Coach Izzo-Brown highlighting her worries that women on the WVU Women’s Soccer Team could one day make the U.S. women’s team and not get paid the same as the men’s team. That’s just plain wrong,” Manchin stated in a press release. “That’s why I’m introducing legislation that will require the U.S. Soccer Federation to pay the men’s and women’s national soccer teams equitably before any federal funds may be used for the 2026 World Cup.
“The clear unequitable [sic] 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 latest victory is causing public outcry. They are the best in the world and deserve to be paid accordingly. I’m encouraging everyone to call their Senator and Representatives to help us get this bill passed and finally create a level playing field for all.”
The American women beat the Netherlands on Sunday to win their fourth World Cup. Fans chanted “equal pay” from the stands in France during the post-game celebration.
In her letter to Manchin, Izzo-Brown wrote:
“The inequality of pay is unjust and this wage gap with the US men’s national team has to stop. The women have won four titles, men none; the women’s viewership in the FIFA World Cup final outdrew the men in the United States by over three million ( men 11.4 , women 14.3). Also, the women’s national team made revenue in 2016 where the men made a net loss.
“Working with women as the Women’s Soccer Coach at West Virginia University for over twenty four years and earning 17 Conference Championships, 20 NCAA appearances, and producing 25 professional players, I believe first hand, it is wrong for the US Soccer women to be paid and valued less for their work because of gender.”
The total prize money for the 2022 men’s World Cup will be $440 million, while the 2019 women’s World Cup doled out $30 million in prize money, including $4 million to the winning team. Forbes estimates that the 2018 men’s World Cup in Russia brought in $6 billion in revenue compared to an expected total of $131 million for this year’s tournament in France.