Sen. Joe Manchin introduced a bill Tuesday that would withhold federal funding for the United States’ hosting of the 2026 men’s World Cup until the men’s and reigning champion women’s national soccer teams receive equal pay.
Trophy in hand, many members of the team are now returning to another face off – in March, 28 members of the USWNT sued the US Soccer Federation for allegedly discriminating against the women by paying them less than members of the men’s national team “for substantially equal work.” The soccer federation and the plaintiffs last month tentatively agreed to mediation, which is expected to begin now that the World Cup is over.
Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, was inspired to sponsor the legislation after receiving a letter from West Virginia University’s women’s soccer coach Nikki Izzo-Brown, asking for his support for the US Women’s National Team’s pursuit of equal pay, he said in a statement.
“The clear unequitable pay between the U.S. men’s and women’s soccer teams is unacceptable and I’m glad the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team latest victory is causing public outcry,” Manchin added. “They are the best in the world and deserve to be paid accordingly.”
The bill would ensure that “no Federal funds may be appropriated or otherwise made available to provide support for the 2026 World Cup” until the US Soccer Federation agrees to pay the teams’ members equally.
But whether federal funding will play a key role in the upcoming games is unclear. The 2026 World Cup is being co-hosted by the US, Mexico and Canada, and games will be split across the three countries. There are 17 US cities under consideration as potential host cities and all of them have existing stadiums where games would be played.
The US bid differs significantly from those of other nations, such as Brazil in 2014 or Qatar in 2022, where massive amounts of spending were needed to bring the country’s soccer stadiums up to FIFA’s standards for a World Cup. In 1994, when the United States first hosted the World Cup, relatively little spending was needed to get the country ready to host the event.
CNN’s Michelle Lou contributed to this report.