On Tuesday, Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) introduced a bill that would prevent federal funds for the 2026 World Cup until the U.S. Soccer Federation agrees to provide equal pay to the U.S. women’s and men’s national teams.
The 2026 FIFA World Cup will be a men’s championship and is set to be hosted by Canada, Mexico, and the United States.
Seventeen cities in the U.S., such as New York, Orlando, and Dallas, are in consideration to be a part of the designated 10 American host cities.
Federal funds will be absolutely essential for the 2026 World Cup given that host cities are asking for federal aid to provide proper infrastructure and security and that the State Department is coordinating international travel for FIFA officials.
Security by local cities will be especially important as local governments are expected to spend large amounts of money on preventing terrorist threats. In 2014, Brazil spent nearly $1 billion on additional police forces and improving security technology alone.
According to Senator Manchin’s bill, “no Federal funds may be appropriated or otherwise made available to provide support for the 2026 World Cup, including support for a host city, a participating State or local agency, the United Soccer Federation… or the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), until the date on which the United States Soccer Federation agrees to provide equitable pay to the members” of the women’s and men’s national teams.
Pulling all such funding will most likely jeopardize or at the very least severely hinder the ability of the U.S. to host the 2026 World Cup.
The bill comes just a few days after the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team (USWNT) won the 2019 FIFA World Cup for the fourth time.
In March 2019, all 28 members of the USWNT also filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation, accusing it of “intentional gender discrimination.”
The issue regarding equal pay for the USWNT remains a complex one.
As The Washington Post notes, “It’s tough to make a straightforward comparison of the earnings for men and women players, because the two teams have different collective-bargaining agreements that outline different pay structures.”
A contract player on the USWNT will make a base salary with performance-based bonuses, while one on the USMNT earns only bonuses.
There are also separate bonus structures for certain events like the World Cup.
In addition, under the women’s new recent bargaining agreement, female players earn “attendance bonuses, payment for commercial appearances and per diems” that are equal to what male players could earn.
With regards solely to the World Cup, the champions of the men’s team would make more money relative to the champions of the women’s. However, the U.S. Soccer Federation argues that the gap in total prize money is based on the amount that FIFA provides and so claims that it is unfair to be held accountable for FIFA’s decision.
It is unclear whether Senator’s Manchin’s bill will pass, but it is clear that Democrats will not let up on this complicated issue of pay equality in soccer to the point of being willing to hold the 2026 World Cup hostage to simplified social justice demands.