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Megan Rapinoe (center) and other members of the World Cup-winning U.S. team at a New York ticker tape parade. Photo: Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images

The U.S. Soccer Federation released a letter Monday claiming that it's paid the World Cup champion women’s team more than the men’s national team in recent years — citing figures disputed by the U.S. Women's National Team.

Why it matters: Following the USWNT's 4th World Cup win this month, equal pay in sport has become a hot-button political issue. The letter's release comes ahead of mediation in the U.S. Women's National Team’s pay-equity lawsuit against the governing body, the Wall Street Journal notes.

A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.

By the numbers: U.S. Soccer President Carlos Cordeiro's letter states that U.S. Soccer paid $34.1 million in salary and game bonuses to the women from 2010 to 2018, compared to $26.4 million that the men received.

  • It says the USWNT generated $101.3 million over the course of 238 games from 2009 to 2019, whereas the men's team generated $185.7 over 191 games.

Yes, but: Comparing compensation between the 2 national teams is tricky because the pay structure is based on different collective bargaining agreements, per AP — which notes that the women’s side has a base salary but the men are paid primarily based on matches and performance.

  • The federation's statistics do not include prize money for tournaments such as the World Cup because that's determined by international soccer governing body FIFA.

What they're saying: USWNT spokesperson Molly Levinson said in a statement provided to Axios that the numbers the USSF uses are "utterly false."

"This is a sad attempt by the USSF to quell the overwhelming tide of support the USWNT has received from everyone from fans to sponsors to the United States Congress.
The USSF has repeatedly admitted that it does not pay the women equally and that it does not believe the women even deserve to be paid equally. This is why they use words like “fair and equitable," not equal in describing pay."

The big picture: Democratic presidential candidate and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio pledged this month to use executive action to guarantee equal pay for national sports teams if Congress failed to act.

  • Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has introduced a bill to deny funding for the 2026 World Cup until U.S. Soccer guarantees equal pay for the men's and women's teams.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Updated 3 hours ago - World

UK government: Kremlin has plan "to install pro-Russian leadership" in Ukraine

British Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss. Photo: Gints Ivuskans / AFP via Getty Images

The United Kingdom's Foreign Secretary on Saturday night said the government has "information that indicates the Russian Government is looking to install a pro-Russian leader in Kyiv as it considers whether to invade and occupy Ukraine."

Driving the news: U.S. National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne called the intelligence "deeply concerning" in a statement to Axios. The Biden administration has said Russia is actively manufacturing a pretext for invasion and warned that Putin could use joint military exercises in Belarus as cover to invade from the north.

Updated 4 hours ago - Science

This powerful new accelerator looks for keys to the center of atoms

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Nuclear physicists trying to piece together how atoms are built are about to get a powerful new tool.

Why it matters: When the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams begins experiments later this spring, physicists from around the world will use the particle accelerator to better understand the inner workings of atoms that make up all the matter that can be seen in the universe.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: FDA OKs antiviral drug remdesivir for non-hospitalized COVID patients — Walensky: CDC language "pivoting" on "fully vaccinated" — Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Teens and adults missed 37 million vaccinations during COVID — Team USA 100% vaccinated against COVID ahead of Beijing Olympics — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America — Annual COVID vaccine preferable to boosters, says Pfizer CEO.
  3. Politics: Arizona governor sues Biden administration over COVID funds tied to mandates — Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults — Beijing officials urge COVID-19 "emergency mode" before Winter Olympics.
  5. Variant tracker