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Bipartisan Bill Supporting Equal Pay for National Teams Introduced

A Republican senator from West Virginia and a Democratic senator from Washington reintroduced a bill intended to ensure more equitable pay for athletes representing the United States.

First introduced in 2019, the Equal Pay for Team USA of 2021 would require equal pay for all athletes representing the U.S. in international sporting competitions, irrespective of the athlete’s gender. Right now, men’s and women’s national teams may legally receive different compensation, creating a gender pay disparity. The U.S. National Women’s Soccer Team highlighted their pay differential in a lawsuit filed against U.S. Soccer. The women’s team has won four World Cups and four Olympics. The men’s team cannot claim any of these honors yet they earn a higher income while playing less and failing to make the last World Cup and the current Olympics.

Senator Shelly Capito from West Virginia stated, “[I]t is only right that the women competing for the United States in global athletic competitions receive the same kind of pay and benefits as their male counterparts.” The proposed bill includes areas beyond financial compensation such as benefits, medical care, travel budget, and reimbursement of expenses. The national governing bodies for over 50 sports and the Olympic and Paralympic governing committees would be required to engage in oversight investigations and submit annual reports reflecting compliance. Capito further stated, “anything short of [equal compensation] sends exactly the wrong message across the world and here at home about the American commitment to equality and fairness.” The reintroduction of the bill coincides with the beginning of the Tokyo Olympics.