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Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence

Representing the 14th District of Michigan

Democratic Women’s Caucus and Sens. Feinstein and Murray Introduce Equal Pay Bill for U.S. National Teams

June 25, 2021
Press Release

Washington, DC - The Democratic Women’s Caucus Co-Chairs Brenda L. Lawrence (MI-14), Lois Frankel (FL-21), and Jackie Speier (CA-14) and Vice Chairs Veronica Escobar (TX-16) and Sylvia Garcia (TX-29), and U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Patty Murray (D-WA) introduced the Even Playing Field Act to ensure equal pay, investment, and working conditions for U.S. national team athletes, coaches, and other personnel. 

 “Our women athletes pour their heart, soul and spirit into their sports, achieving extraordinary feats that some can only dream of. But even when they reach the top, like the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team (USWNT), they’re still met with gender inequalities that prevent them from fully breaking that glass ceiling,” said Representative Lawrence. “As the co-chair of the Democratic Women’s Caucus, I’m proud to join my DWC leadership to close the gender gaps and even the playing field for our women athletes. The Even Play Field Act of 2021 means equal pay, equal investment, and equal working conditions. This legislation builds on the progress the House is making for women’s rights as we’ve worked to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, the Equal Rights Amendment Resolution and VAWA Reauthorization.”

The USWNT has won four World Cups and four Olympic gold medals and is currently ranked No. 1 heading into the Summer Olympics. However, despite its success on the field, the U.S. Soccer Federation pays women team members just 38 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts.

Not only does the women’s national team outperform the men on the field, but that success has also led to an increase in ticket sales. From 2016 to 2018, women’s games generated $50.8 million in revenue compared to $49.9 million for the men’s national team, according to an audit of the U.S. Soccer Federation’s financial statements.

That pay gap is not unique to women’s soccer. In 2017, the U.S. Women’s National Hockey Team received a pay raise from its governing body, USA Hockey, only after the team threatened to boycott a major competition.

The Even Playing Field Act would amend the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act, which outlines eligibility requirements and general duties of national governing bodies (NGBs), such as U.S. Soccer, that are selected by the U.S. Olympic Committee. The Even Playing Field Act would:

  • Require the U.S. Olympic Committee to ensure female athletes are provided with wages, investment, and working conditions equitable compared to their male counterparts.
  • Clarify eligibility requirements for NGBs to include demonstrating and providing investment, promotional support, working conditions, wages, stipends and other compensation for amateur athletes, coaches, trainers, managers, administrators and officials that is free from discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, age or national origin.
  • Stipulate that duties of NGBs include providing equitable support and encouragement for participation by women, including investment, promotional support, working conditions (including staff support and facilities and equipment), wages, stipends and other compensation.
  • Mandate that each NGB submit regular reports to Congress on their compensation practices, broken out by race and gender.

The bill is supported by the National Partnership for Women and Families, American Association of University Women, National Women’s Law Center, Women’s Sports Foundation and Sports Fans Coalition.

“The Even Playing Field Act is a great step to granting equality to all of Team USA,” said Brian Hess, executive director of Sports Fans Coalition. “As the nation’s largest fan-advocacy group, we are excited to work with Senator Feinstein and Representatives Speier and Frankel on advancing equality for all athletes.”

 “The Women's Sports Foundation is greatly appreciative of the senators and representatives working together to fight for pay equity by reintroducing the Even Playing Field Act,” said Deborah Antoine, CEO of the Women’s Sports Foundation. “Across so many sports, female athletes continue to illuminate inequities and call for change. By providing equitable pay, resources and treatment, we send the message to girls across the country that they are valued.”