During the World Cup, Cantwell, Capito Equal Pay for Team USA Bill Passes Senate Unanimously; Journey to Equal Pay in Sports Closest It’s Ever Been

December 12, 2022

Legislation ensures all Team USA athletes—regardless of gender—receive equal pay and benefits in global competition


The U.S. Senate unanimously passed the bipartisan Equal Pay for Team USA Act, led by Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), along with Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), that would ensure equal pay for all Americans who represent the United States in global athletic competitions, like the World Cup and Olympics, regardless of gender. The bill must now pass the House.

“The Equal Pay for Team USA Act requires the U.S. Olympic Committee and the governing bodies to provide the same pay, medical care, and coverage of expenses to U.S. athletes regardless of gender - or risk decertification” U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell said.  “By passing the bill out of the Senate, we’re sending a message to all the young girls who dream of a future in sports – you will get equal pay for your success. I will continue to push the House to get this finally passed into law.”

“When American athletes compete on the world stage, they represent our great nation, our people, and our values. It 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. This is an issue we can address together, not as Democrats and Republicans, but as Americans, and I’m proud to join Senator Cantwell in pushing to get this legislation across the finish line,” U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito said.

“The joy of sports depends on an even playing field, but our athletes shouldn’t have to fight to get the same pay for the same work,” said U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar. “That’s why I’m proud to have worked on the bipartisan Equal Pay for Team USA Act. With this bill, we have a chance to walk the walk and show the world that the U.S. values all of our athletes. There’s no reason any athlete with ‘U-S-A’ written on their uniform should bring home a smaller paycheck just because of their gender.”

“The female athletes that compete under the American flag on the global stage have worked and trained just as hard as their male counterparts, and should be compensated equally. In my home state of Wyoming, proudly known as the Equality State, we have a long history of trailblazing equality among men and women. I am proud to join Senators Cantwell, Capito, and Klobuchar to ensure equality for our female athletes and I am pleased to see this legislation one step closer to becoming law,” U.S. Senator Cynthia Lummis said.

“U.S. women have been at the forefront of the modern Olympic and Paralympic movements for more than 120 years. Female Olympians and Paralympians have trained, excelled, and inspired generations of girls. The Equal Pay for Team USA Act will build upon the USOPC’s established commitment to parity in its support of female and male athletes competing on behalf of the United States, and it will help America continue to lead in advancing equality and opportunity in international sport,” said Sarah Hirshland, CEO of the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee.

“At U.S. Soccer, we’re immensely proud of the work we did with our Women’s and Men’s National Teams to achieve equal pay. The U.S. Senate has sent a clear message that this is the standard for all national teams in all sports and it underscores the importance of working with our athletes to achieve equal pay including equalizing international prize money,” said Cindy Parlow Cone, President of the U.S. Soccer Federation.

Currently, men and women can be, and in many cases are, paid differently for representing Team USA in the same sport. In 2019, when the world-champion U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team (USWNT) sued for equal pay, Sens. Cantwell and Capito teamed up to introduce a bipartisan bill that amplified the chorus of voices demanding equal pay for Team USA.

In September, Sen. Cantwell and Capito joined leaders of U.S. Soccer, USWNT, the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team (USMNT) and Seattle OL Reign player Megan Rapinoe, for the signing of historic Collective Bargaining Agreements which guarantee players are paid equally. Sen. Cantwell spoke on her effort to pass national legislation, saying, “My colleague is here tonight. I’m a Democrat from Washington state. She’s a Republican from West Virginia. But we are going to use the power of this moment to get national legislation passed so that every young girl in every sport knows that we will have equal pay when it comes to sports in the United States of America. Let’s celebrate!”

(First photo: Sen. Cantwell cheering on the first-ever agreement guaranteeing equal pay for top-ranked USWNT players)
(Second photo left to right: Sen. Capito, U.S. Soccer President Cindy Parlow Cone, Sen. Cantwell and U.S. Soccer Foundation CEO Ed Foster-Simeon)
(Third photo: Megan Rapinoe and Senator Cantwell)

The bipartisan S.2333 Equal Pay for Team USA Act would require that all athletes representing the United States in global amateur athletic competitions receive equal compensation and benefits in their sport, regardless of gender. It also would require equal payment for medical care, travel and expenses. 

The bill applies to 50 different sports’ national governing bodies, and it requires the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) to conduct oversight and the USOPC and national governing bodies to report on compliance with the legislation.

Sens. Cantwell and Capito reintroduced the bipartisan legislation in July 2021 and it passed the Senate Commerce Committee on June 22, 2022, on the eve of the 50th anniversary of Title IX. The legislation now waits for passage in the House.  

Organizations Supporting the Equal Pay for Team USA Act:

  1. Alliance of Social Workers in Sports
  2. American Volleyball Coaches Association
  3. Athlete Ally
  4. Center for Sport, Peace & Society – University of Tennessee
  5. Champion Women
  6. Equality League
  7. Geena Davis Institute for Gender in Media
  8. National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association
  9. National Organization for Women
  10. National Women’s Law Center
  11. Sports Fans Coalition
  12. The Female Quotient
  13. The Tucker Center – University of Minnesota
  14. Trajectory Women
  15. UltraViolet
  16. UN Women
  17. US Olympic and Paralympic Committee
  18. US Soccer
  19. US Squash
  20. USA Curling
  21. USA Volleyball
  22. USA Water Ski & Wake Sports
  23. Voice in Sport
  24. Voice in Sport Foundation 
  25. Washington Spirit Women’s Soccer Team
  26. West Virginia University Women’s Soccer Team
  27. Women Win
  28. Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Association
  29. Women’s Sports Foundation
  30. Wrestle Like a Girl 

Additional high-quality photos from the U.S. Soccer event and videos of Sens. Cantwell and Capito calling for passage of the bill can be found here.