U.S. soccer teams agree on gender pay equity

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Will this influence other sports?

The U.S. women’s and men’s national soccer teams now have a landmark dual collective bargaining agreement with the U.S. Soccer Federation. Both teams now will have equal pay, falling in line with other countries’ national teams in the Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand and Norway that reached similar deals.

Can this be a blueprint for pay equity in other sports?

“I expect that other women’s sports institutions will follow suit,” said Iciss Tillis, an attorney at the national law firm Hall Estill in a May 18 printed statement. “There is still an uphill battle to fight with the men who control the sports industry, i.e., federations, leagues, teams, sponsors and the like.”

The MSR reached out to Tillis, a former college athlete (she played basketball at Duke) and a former WNBA player (a first-round draft pick who played for three clubs). She played overseas for two years before attending law school and earning her J.D.  

We talked to her last Friday by phone and asked her if the soccer CBA can one day be achieved in pro basketball.

Iciss Tillis
Submitted photo

“I still think it’s going to be an uphill battle,” she responded. “I think that one of the issues is that this is dealing with the USA national team. There’s a different aspect to it.

“I’m not completely confident, to be honest with you, that Major League Soccer or the WNBA [can achieve pay equity],” continued Tillis, who said historically revenues and inequities by gender remain a sore spot in any negotiations. 

“I think you might get the women a little more, or it might be a little more eye-opening for the women in terms of collective bargaining in the future.”

The attorney explained, “It really boils down to right now women’s sports are able to take advantage…to market themselves. I think that is going to be the turnaround, because women have always had to depend on either the league or college, athletic department, playing on the USA national team…to market you with the same vigor as they do the men.”

She remains hopeful but admits, “What we’ve seen in the past is that there really hasn’t been much of a change. The women have got to be able to use their own voices to really get the word out.

“I think that’s gonna make the biggest difference going forward,” said Tillis.

More honors

Several female athletes featured in previous MSR editions have earned honors.

Minnesota Gopher graduate senior SS Makenna Dowell: third team, National FastPitch Coaches Association Division I all region; Big Ten All-Defensive team

Sophie Jaques (Ohio State women’s hockey) is the 2022 Arthur Ashe Jr. Female Sports Scholar for the second time in her collegiate career.

Jaycee Rhodes (St. Catherine women’s golf) helped her team finish 15th in the NCAA Women’s Tournament and registered a 75 in her first round.