Megan Rapinoe on USWNT’s Legacy After World Cup Exit: We ‘Changed the World Forever’

“I think this team has always fought for so much more, and that’s been the most rewarding part for me,” she said in her post-match interview when asked about the greatest memory of her legendary USWNT run. “To know that we’ve used our really special talent to do something that’s really changed the world forever. I think that means the most to me.”

Rapinoe specifically cited the USWNT’s fight for equal pay as part of the squad’s lasting influence.

In March 2019, the women’s national team sued U.S. Soccer for gender discrimination, alleging there was a wide gulf between in earnings between the USWNT and men’s national team.

When the United States beat the Netherlands in the final of the 2019 Women’s World Cup, many fans inside Parc Olympique Lyonnais chanted “equal pay” out of solidarity with the cause.The USWNT and U.S. Soccer eventually reached a settlement in February 2022, and a new collective bargaining agreement followed that May. Among other things, the new CBA pools the earnings between the men’s and women’s teams and divides the money on equal terms.

FIFA also increased its total prize money for the 2023 Women’s World Cup to $110 million, up from $30 million in 2019.

Beyond the benefits gained by members of the USWNT squad, their plight helped to draw more attention to the inequities in women’s soccer writ large.

The NWSL, the top women’s pro league in the United States, faced a wide reckoning over sexual misconduct and player mistreatment across multiple clubs. A subsequent investigation detailed the structural failings of both the NWSL and U.S. Soccer.

Around the globe, a number of national teams continue to wage the same battle the USWNT with its federation.

As one example, a mother of one of Jamaica’s players started a GoFundMe to help raise money for the general costs associated with competing in an international tournament. For Canada, the World Cup only offered a temporary respite amid its ongoing dispute with its federation. Spain advancing to the quarterfinals doesn’t totally obscure the issues that arose leading up to the event.

Beyond setting the table for generations to come, the USWNT showed how taking the fight to people in positions of power can effect change.



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