Sports

US women’s team has history of advocating for equal rights

The U.S. ladies’s nationwide group has no longer best been wildly a success at the box, the avid gamers have additionally been unabashedly outspoken, the usage of their platform to recommend for equivalent rights for themselves and others.

The group’s efforts to protected equitable pay in any case got here to fruition this week. The four-time Women’s World Cup winners reached a collective bargaining settlement with U.S. Soccer that provides them the similar pay as their male opposite numbers.

But the historical milestone wasn’t accomplished simply for the reason that ladies filed a discrimination lawsuit in 2019, or complained to the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2016. It used to be a long time within the making.

Former goalkeeper Briana Scurry, who began at the group that received the 1999 World Cup, mentioned the activity of a countrywide group participant is first to be a talented participant and a perfect teammate. But there is all the time been any other unstated element.

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“Part two is you have to understand that there is a standard of doing more than just being a footballer, you have to push the envelope further and further, raise the bar in terms of equality,” Scurry said. “It was so clear to all of us back then that we deserved so much more than we were getting when we were the ones winning World Cups and Olympic Games, and bringing great notoriety to soccer in this country.”

—In 1995, before the Atlanta Games became the first Olympics to include women’s soccer, a group of nine players, including Scurry, Michelle Akers, Mia Hamm and Kristine Lilly, sat out of a training camp in a dispute over bonuses.

—Following the team’s memorable 1999 World Cup victory at the Rose Bowl, 20 of the team’s players refused to play in a tournament in Australia. That led to the team’s first collective bargaining agreement.

Akers, who is in the National Soccer Hall of Fame, said that back when the team was founded in the 80s, the players got a $10 per diem and had to wear their own cleats in games. They were given hand-me-down uniforms from the men’s team.

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Out of necessity, it became “part of the team’s DNA” for the players to advocate for themselves off the field, Akers said.

“That’s additionally part of enjoying for the United States National Team, you’re representing your nation, you’re representing your circle of relatives, your teammates, and also you’re in the market giving the whole lot it’s important to be the most productive you’ll be — and that doesn’t simply imply as a football participant, it method as an individual and it method the way you engage and paintings to make the arena higher,” she said.

Over the years, the battles extended beyond just pay.

Abby Wambach led a group of players in protesting the artificial turf fields at the 2015 World Cup in Canada, claiming — rightly — that the men’s World Cup would never be held on fake grass. The players said the game is inherently different on turf and there’s a greater risk of injury. The tournament went on as planned, but the point was made for future World Cups.

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Megan Rapinoe knelt during the national anthem before two games in 2016 in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick, the former NFL quarterback who knelt to draw attention to racial inequity.

At a fit in Texas this yr, various avid gamers wore armbands that learn “Protect Trans Kids” hours after Gov. Greg Abbott called for investigations into parents for seeking gender-affirming care for their transgender children, likening it to child abuse.

One of the team’s most dramatic stands for equality came in 2016, when five high-profile players — Rapinoe, Alex Morgan, Becky Sauerbrunn, Hope Solo and Carli Lloyd — filed their EEOC complaint.

Unsatisfied with the lack of response, the women filed a gender discrimination lawsuit in 2019, just a few months before the team went to France and won the World Cup, spurring chants of “Equal Pay!” from fanatics celebrating the victory.

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The U.S. Soccer Federation settled the lawsuit with the ladies previous this yr, and vowed to paintings with each the lads’s and ladies’s groups to equalize pay going ahead. On Wednesday, the groups introduced that offers have been struck.

“We wouldn’t be where we are today without all the generations of women’s national team players that came before that decided to fight for better everything,” Sauerbrunn mentioned. “So much credit needs to go to them and I hope that they feel pride in what they did because we wouldn’t be here without them.”

Amanda Cromwell, who played for the national team from 1991-98, appearing in 55 matches, is proud of that legacy.

“I hope these women know the players that came before them, Michelle Akers, Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy, they paved the way for this group, and we fought our battles back then with some contract issues and trying to get more,” Cromwell mentioned. “We’ve come a ways, I’ll say that.”

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