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‘One cannot simply outperform inequality’: Megan Rapinoe testifies to US Congress over equal pay dispute

Rapinoe appeared via videoconference before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform on Wednesday

Amy Tennery
Wednesday 24 March 2021 17:21 GMT
US women’s national team star Megan Rapinoe
US women’s national team star Megan Rapinoe (Getty Images)

Megan Rapinoe has continued her battle for equal pay for female footballers by taking her fight to Congress.

The US women’s national team star, who scored in the 2019 World Cup final and was named player of the tournament, appeared via videoconference before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform on Wednesday.

Rapinoe told the hearing her and her teammates have exceeded the accomplishments of their male counterparts but haven’t received adequate compensation and playing conditions, two years after she and her teammates filed a landmark gender discrimination lawsuit against US Soccer.

The governing body, who argued in 2019 that the women’s team had been compensated more than the men’s over the last decade, said they applauded Rapinoe’s position as a “champion for equal pay.”

“One cannot simply outperform inequality or be excellent enough to escape discrimination of any kind,” Rapinoe said in her written testimony in honour of Equal Pay Day. “There is no level of status, accomplishments, or power that will protect you from the clutches of inequity.

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“The United States women’s national team has won four World Cup championships and four Olympic gold medals on behalf of our country. We have filled stadiums, broken viewing records, and sold out jerseys, all popular metrics by which we are judged.

“Yet despite all of this, we are still paid less than men – for each trophy, of which there are many, each win, each tie, each time we play. Less.”

“I feel like honestly we’ve done everything,” she added. “You want stadiums filled? We filled them. You want role models for your kids, for your boys, and your girls, and your little trans kids? We have that. You want us to be respectful? You want us to perform on the world stage?”

The World Cup winners sued their governing body in 2019, alleging gender discrimination in a lawsuit that contained complaints over wages and playing conditions.

The complaint loomed large as the team went on claim their fourth World Cup title in France that summer, and fans backed them up, chanting “equal pay” during the World Cup final match.

In May 2020, a United States District Court judge for the Central District of California threw out players’ claims that they were underpaid in comparison with the men’s team.

The players and US Soccer reached a settlement in December over working conditions, including hotel and travel accommodations, clearing a path for an appeal over equal pay.

“We put in just as much work, we train just as hard. We compete to bring trophies back to the United States, bring gold medals back to the United States,” she added.

President Joe Biden will host an event with Rapinoe, teammate Margaret Purce and other members of the women’s team later on Wednesday.


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