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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.

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.

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