Equal Pay Agreement! It’s not done yet, but the collaboration is the key — Hear from Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe and Cindy Parlow Cone on the room where it happened

The IX: Soccer Monday with Annie M. Peterson, February 28, 2022

First of all, apologies that this is late! Needed a little decompress time this morning. It was a really busy week with the USWNT and MLS, and with the Ukrainian invasion, everything felt heavy. Needed some time to myself.

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Unless you live under a rock you likely know that the women’s national team has reached an agreement with U.S. Soccer to settle the lawsuit the players brought back in 2019.

I say agreement rather than settlement on purpose: The two sides aren’t quite there yet. The heavy lifting is going to come in the coming weeks.

The official announcement came on Tuesday. AP started to hear rumblings about it late Monday night, just as I was sitting down to watch The Tinder Swindler. My colleague Ron Blum and coordinated on the story, a few hours ahead of the “official” announcement coming at 3:30 a.m. my time.

Lots of outlets covered the decision, I won’t list them all here. But for purely selfish reasons, here’s one of the AP’s stories (we wrote a few). Please click it! 🙂

We got to speak with Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe and Cindy Parlow Cone in advance of the announcement, and you’ll see what they said below. Keep in mind we still had limited details at that time, more came out in the ensuing days.

I’m encouraged the agreement is a step in the right direction. Indeed, when select players and Parlow Cone held a news conference on Tuesday afternoon, Crystal Dunn was at the negotiating table with the federation and the union. Dunn, as you may remember, is secretary of the players’ association. I wrote about her role here. Also, she’s really pregnant right now, so kudos.

While cynics will say this isn’t over the line, and it isn’t, I think what it should indicate is a significant thawing of the tensions between the two sides. A detente, if you will. And no matter what anyone says (oh hey, not going there), that’s a good thing.

Becky is out here being the voice of reason, as usual.

One other thing I wanted to note:

The USWNT wrote “Protect Trans Kids” on their wristbands for the SheBelieves final in Texas. Earlier in the day, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order that treats gender-affirming care for children as abuse. You can read about it here. Besides being filled with wild inaccuracies about gender-affirming care for kids, the order potentially criminalizes actions parents might take in support of their transgender children.

That order, along with the “Don’t Say Gay” bill in Florida, should give the NCAA and professional sports leagues pause when holding championships or other big events in those states.


ESPN’s Caitlin Murray asks how players can believe the NWSL changing?

Claire Watkins writes for Just Women’s Sports about how player/leaders viewed the NWSL CBA.

Steph Yang writes about Jaelin Howell’s jump from college to the NWSL, and USWNT for the Athletic. Yang also wrote about Sophia Smith.

I wrote about Catarina Macario for the AP.

The Chicago Sun Times’ Annie Costabile on how the Chicago Red Stars still display lack of transparency.

Harjeet Johal with a story for The Equalizer on Kailin Sheridan.

The Equalizer’s Jeff Kassouf’s with a story on Midge Purce and the push for progress.

Sandra Herrera with the three things we learned about the USWNT during the SheBelieves Cup.

Goal.com Amee Ruszkai on Sh’nia Gordon, an American playing in Moscow.

Yang and Meg Linehan analyze the players who were most impressive in the SheBelieves Cup for The Athletic.

Julie Foudy looked at the USWNT youngsters for ESPN.

CNN with its take on the implications of the USWNT agreement.

The Washington Post’s editorial board weighs in, too.

ESPN’s Caitlin Murray on what comes next for the USWNT.

Oh hey, look! It’s Howard Megdal! Writing about the NWSL preseason for Forbes.

This was breaking this morning. FIFA and UEFA are banning Russia from international competitions. That means the women’s Euros, too. Russia was in Group C with the Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland. No word yet on who might replace Russia, UEFA is taking a wait-and-see approach.

This was my favorite piece to read after a hectic week: From Katie Whyatt at The Athletic.

And there was this little gem about a woman who played soccer in England 100 years ago.

Five at The IX: Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe and Cindy Parlow Cone

Here are excerpts of an interview the three had with the AP about the settlement. Please note, this wasn’t the entire conversation, and some of the responses have been edited slightly for brevity.

Morgan: It’s so gratifying to feel like we can start to mend a relationship with US Soccer that has that has been severed for for so many years because of the discriminations that we faced. It’s so great to take this step forward in the right direction and feel like we have like we’ve done so much in the last six years and we’ve come a long way. But to finally get to this moment feels like we can almost sigh a breath of relief.

Rapinoe: Just to echo what Alex is saying about how important this is for women: To think of where we’ve come in the last couple years, the 2019 World Cup, the WNBA in the bubble — basically saving the democracy by the way — it’s just this groundswell around us that is a huge moment. This lawsuit in particular, I think we filed the EEOC complaint like six years ago or something like that, and that came obviously off the back of basically the entire history of the U.S. women’s national team, laying the groundwork for this fight. I think for Alex and I, for our generation, knowing that we’re going to leave the game in an exponentially better place than when we found it, is everything. That’s what it’s all about, because to be honest, there is no justice in all of this if we don’t make sure it never happens again. And I think that’s kind of been our focus all along. I think we’ve all sort of known that the most benefit out of this will probably not come to us. I might get one or two years out of it, Alex might get five years out of it — I want to put a cap on your time, boo, you play for as long as you want. Everyone’s calling us old these days and I’m like, relax, we’re fine.

To come through this moment, to know the mediation rooms that we’ve sat in and looked at each other like this can’t possibly happen, or a court case that didn’t go our way, or an incredibly difficult brief to hear on the eve of a really important game that you’re about to play, that you got to think of a protest that we can do as a team. And I feel like it’s just a little bit of poetic justice that we’re having a former player, who’s the president of U.S. Soccer, lead us into this moment. But I just couldn’t be prouder of our group and the team and the players that this represents, and the so many players that came before us obviously. I think we’re gonna look back on this moment and just think like, Wow, what an incredible turning point in the history of US Soccer that changed the game and change the world really forever.

Question: What were the things that happened that allowed this to fall into place after all the acrimony? What were the keys?

Morgan: I think what most people don’t see, which is really confidential, is the work behind the scenes that the players have done, that the our legal team has done and that Cindy and her side had done, as well. We had inched closer and closer for many months but I think what got it over the finish line was really our commitment to what we wanted to lay out to do, which was equal pay moving forward, damages in what the settlement lays out in the back pay, and in equal working conditions. When we were able to agree on all three of those things and accomplished them, we realized it was a huge moment, not only for women’s soccer, but for women. To see a lot of the women that we helped inspire and motivate to go out and negotiate for more, or stand up for themselves a little bit more, this was kind of our part in finally getting justice in getting the things that we went after in the first place.

Rapinoe: Just build on that really quick. It’s a continuing process. You mentioned the word acrimony. I mean, if they keep acting up, there’s still going to think be acrimony. Like, we don’t want this either. I’ve been saying that for a long time. We’ve all been saying this — contrary to what people think, we don’t want to be in this fight either. Me and Alex, as with all the other players, would rather put our time and energy into something else. So I think it’s like a marker of a really amazing first day of a new relationship where Alex said, paid out in full plus the back pay and legal working conditions and equal pay going forward. This is the start of a new day. And the justice comes from this never happening again, the accountability of never happening again and changing the culture from within with US Soccer.

Question: Cindy, can we get your thoughts a little bit on on the settlement and US Soccer side?

Parlow Cone: I think this is a win for everyone. Just like the players say, it’s a win for U.S. Soccer, it’s a win for the players, women’s sports and women in general. You know, when I came on as president, and I’ve said it many times over the last year and a half or so, resolving the litigation is my top priority. And it’s now time to move forward. I’ll be the first to admit that the federation’s made mistakes in the past and as a former player, I understand the frustration of being treated that way and of dealing with my predecessor, but I’m very proud of the work we’ve done and the work we continue to do on equal pay. This is just one step towards rebuilding the relationship with the women’s team. I think this is a great accomplishment and I’m excited about the future and working together with them. Now we can shift the focus so to other things, most importantly, growing the game at all levels and increasing opportunities for girls and women both on the field and in administration, whether you’re on the field as a player or as a coach. And now we can start to work with the players in growing this game because not only are they the best players in the world, they’re the best ambassadors for our sport and I’m just looking forward I’m so glad we got this done. And I’m so looking forward to just working together and turning the page.

Question: What does this mean for the CBA? Does this basically pave the way for now for collective bargaining agreement?

Parlow Cone: We’ve been working diligently, both sides. The players have been very engaged, meeting multiple times every week. So I think there’s a great collaboration there and work going on with the CBAs. But as we all know, CBAs are very complex. So it does take some time we’ve extended the deadline to March 31st to find an agreement. there.

Question: Part of the agreement is that prize money will be equalized, so it does this mean that um the prize money for World Cups will will be equalized will just be put into a pile and separate and distributed evenly to both sides?

Parlow Cone: Yes, it will be equalized. How that is going to happen, we haven’t come into an agreement yet. This is going to be a joint effort with the men’s PA and the women’s PA and US Soccer to find a way to equalize the World Cup prize money.

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson, AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By: Joey Dillon, @JoeyDillon, Freelance Tennis Writer
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal, The Next
Thursdays: Golf
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Saturdays: Gymnastics
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Written by Annie Peterson