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U.S. Soccer sponsor P&G sides with women's team equal pay fight

Megan Rapinoe #15 of United States holds the 2019 FIFA World Cup Champion Trophy
Megan Rapinoe #15 of United States holds the 2019 FIFA World Cup Champion Trophy. Photo: Ira L. Black/Corbis via Getty Images

U.S. Soccer partner and sponsor Procter & Gamble donated more than $500,000 to the team's players association, signaling support “to be on the right side of history" on equal pay for all of its athletes, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: P&G's announcement, the first of its kind, could increase pressure on U.S. Soccer to resolve the players' federal gender discrimination lawsuit.

Context: The issue on equal pay was re-highlighted after the U.S. women's national soccer team won the World Cup final last week against the Netherlands. As the women's team celebrated their victory on the field last Sunday, "equal pay" chants erupted among fans.

  • The team filed a wage-discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2016. 28 teammates later sued the federation alleging years of "institutionalized gender discrimination.”
  • On Monday, the team and the federation begin mediation talks, per NYT.

P&G's Secret deodorant brand said in an advertising campaign that its $529,000 donation is symbolic. "Inequality is about more than pay and players. It’s about values," it said.

Yes, but: On NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday, U.S. Women's Soccer team co-captain Megan Rapinoe said she was disappointed in how the team's sponsors have been handling the equal pay conversation. She responded to P&G's donation, saying these companies should have been on the forefront of the issue:

“These are some of the most powerful corporations, not just in sports but in the world, and have so much weight that they can throw around. And I think that they just need to get comfortable with throwing it around.”

Rapinoe said she would keep fighting: “I'm going to fight for equal pay every day for myself, for my team, and for every single person out there, man, woman, immigrant, U.S. citizen, person of color, whatever it may be. ‘Equal pay,’ as the great Serena Williams said, ‘Until I'm in my grave.’”

Go deeper: U.S. women's national soccer team generating more game revenue than men since 2015