Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said in an interview with Yahoo Finance that the US women’s national team should be paid equal to their male counterparts, if not more.
With the U.S. women’s national team (USWNT) taking home World Cup gold in its victory over the Netherlands, a heated debate has erupted over why male U.S. soccer players — who failed to qualify for the global tournament — are better compensated than the female team.
Now, the New York Democrat and 2020 presidential contender waded into the controversy over whether the female players should receive pay comparable to their male counterparts.
“I think they should certainly [receive] equal pay for equal work. And since they are winning and have won and have more goals and more viewers, they really should be paid not only as much as the men, but perhaps more,” Gillibrand told Yahoo Finance’s Rick Newman in an interview.
She added that a potential White House visit — which has yet to be offered by President Donald Trump — was “up to them.” Recently, USWNT star Megan Rapinoe pointedly rejected the suggestion, and stoked a war of words with the president.
At the moment, the male and female national teams operate under separate collective bargaining agreements that have vastly different pay structures.
On March 28, members of the USWNT filed a lawsuit against the US Soccer Federation for allegedly discriminating, paying the women’s team less money than the men’s team.
In a May court filing, the soccer federation argued that the pay differential is determined by, among other factors, aggregated revenue generated by different teams, but not by gender.
The women’s team victory has fanned a polarizing discussion about the disparity, and what should be done to correct it.
"These athletes generate more revenue and garner higher TV ratings but get paid less simply because they are women," Molly Levinson, the USWNT spokeswoman, said recently.
The dispute is expected to be mediated now that the World Cup is over.
Donovan Russo is a writer for Yahoo Finance. Follow him @Donovanxrusso.