One of U.S. Soccer’s advertisers is putting its money where its mouth is in the fight for equal pay.
Secret deodorant brand, through its parent company Procter & Gamble, announced a $529,000 donation to the women’s national team’s players association on Sunday with a full-page ad in the New York Times.
The sizable donation has symbolic meaning with $23,000 donated for each of the 23 members of the USWNT who won the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup one week ago. The ad may have run up the bill another six figures.
Although Procter & Gamble has faced backlash in the past for charging a “pink tax” for products aimed at women, the company has been a been a vocal proponent of equal pay in the past with advertising campaigns focusing on the issue.
“But after all the toasts, cheers, parades and awards subside, the issue remains,” the ad concludes. “Inequality is about more than pay and players; it’s about values. Let’s take this moment of celebration to propel women’s sports forward. We urge the U.S. Soccer Federation to be a beacon of strength and end gender pay inequality once and for all, for all players.”
P&G is the first major sponsor to so explicitly back the team in its effort to achieve equal pay. Some companies like Nike have run ads that mention “breaking the glass ceiling” without directly mentioning the pay gap.
Back in March, the USWNT filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the US Soccer Federation, accusing them of "institutionalized gender discrimination" that extends beyond the pay gap. The women’s national team is subjected to a more packed schedule, worse travel conditions and less quality training than the men’s team despite far more success.
Brands aren’t the only ones taking notice of the fight; many politicians are also taking this moment of elevated awareness to bring up legislation to combat the pay gap.
New York governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law an equal pay bill just before the World Cup parade in New York City, and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) proposed legislation that would block funding for the 2026 World Cup — which will be hosted in the U.S., Canada and Mexico — unless the USWNT received equal pay.
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