womens soccer

Equal Pay for US Women's National Soccer Team Inspires Female Athletes

The economic victory for the U.S. Women's National Team also highlights the need for an emphasis on women's sports programs and a pathway to the pros.

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It is a historic day for female athletes. The men’s and women’s national soccer teams have reached agreements with the U.S. Soccer Federation.

The first-of-its-kind deal lays out equal pay for the women’s team, including World Cup prize money.

They are some of the best soccer players in the world, bringing home four world cups and six Olympic medals. Now, this marks another victory for Team USA.

 “They fought for this. It was not given to them. They took it, and they earned it, and they deserve it,” Bruce Mandell, Hartford Athletic chairman, said.

The U.S. Women’s National Team will now earn the same amount as the men’s team, due to the landmark deal with the U.S. Soccer Federation.

"I hope that it opens up more doors and more pathways for women,” Abby Wrinn, West Hartford Women’s Soccer Team coordinator, said.

The Women’s National Team filed an equal pay lawsuit three years ago. Now, U.S. Soccer is the first federation in the world to reach collective bargaining agreements that achieve equal pay.

“I think it's a powerful statement for what's coming on the women's side of sports in America and in the world,” Mandell said.

It is making an impression on female athletes here at home.

“I think you're teaching the girls that they have so many more opportunities when they get older,” Wrinn said. “You're teaching them the broader message of just outside of sports, too, that women should be treated as equally as their counterparts the men.”

Wrinn plays for the West Hartford Women’s Soccer Club and coaches middle school sports. She knows about juggling playing with parenthood, and applauds the parental leave and child care aspects of the agreement for both teams.

“If you're going to have equality, you need to have it for all things. So if you're going to have childcare for women, then you need to have the childcare for the men as well,” she said.

The deal ensures equal appearance fees, game bonuses, commercial revenue and prize money. Extending through 2028, it will cover the next two World Cup and Olympic cycles.

"Women's sports is coming extremely fast and strong, and the economic rights that come with it are exciting,” Mandell said.

Yet Mandell said supporting female athletes also has to start at the earliest levels.

“As we grow as a club, we want to be both a strong club on the men's side and the women's side,” he said. “To do that, it's really a pyramid where you have a professional team at the top, a strong amateur team, and academy, and even youth soccer."

Mandell said Connecticut already has strong female athletics programs through academies, clubs and colleges.

Now, Hartford Athletic is hoping to launch a USL women’s pro league in 2023.

“USL was recently here because they think Hartford and Connecticut would be an amazing spot to be one of the founding partners in that league,” Mandell said. “Still some work to do, but it is a goal of myself and my partners and our entire club to be a leader not just on the men's side but on the women's side in U.S. soccer.”

And the path to the pros may just start in the Nutmeg State, he said, if enough support is cast behind women’s athletics.

“We're a huge country, we have more female talent than anywhere in the world,” Mandell said. “There is a real opportunity for additional pro leagues to come about.”

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