THAT it takes six years and countless court actions for a group of female athletes to achieve equal pay says much about the world we still live in.

Last week, the USA women’s football team reached a landmark equal pay settlement with US Soccer worth $24 million.

The legal battle began back in 2016 when a trio of the biggest names in the women’s US national team, Megan Rapinoe, Hope Solo and Alex Morgan, filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claiming the team should receive pay equal to that of the men’s.

It did not seem an outrageous suggestion.

In America, the women’s game has long been the more marketable, popular and successful of their national football teams, fuelled in large part to their dominance at the top of the international game, winning four World Cups and three Olympic gold medals between 1991 and 2019.

Despite this, they lagged far behind their male counterparts in terms of remuneration by their national federation, US Soccer.

A particularly significant example was the women’s side’s bonuses from US Soccer following their win at the 2015 World Cup; the 28 female players were paid a total of $1.725m in bonuses compared to the men who were given $5.375m by the federation for their performance at the previous year’s World Cup, when they only reached the last 16.

After a judge threw out the women’s case in 2020, they have now, finally, prevailed, and players will receive £22m in back payments, as well as a further $2m for a fund to help athletes during their post-playing careers and support charitable endeavours benefiting women’s sport.

“For us this is a huge win in ensuring that we not only right the wrongs of the past but set the next generation up for something that we could only have dreamed of,” said Rapinoe, who has long been an outspoken advocate for equality.

This decision brings the US in line with other nations, including Australia, Norway, the Netherlands and Brazil, who have committed to closing the gender pay gap at national team level, with Rapinoe expressing her belief that this court ruling is a “huge turning point” for women’s sport.

Certainly, it is massively significant that the most successful women’s football team in recent times now has equality in terms of pay, but there is something very wrong that they have been forced to fight so hard for it.

During the course of this lawsuit, a number of remarkable attitudes were uncovered.

US Soccer, in their defence of the discrepancy of pay, had argued that the women players had less physical ability and bore less responsibility than their male counterparts, a revelation that saw major sponsors withdraw their support as well as much of the public turn against the national federation.

While US Soccer rowed back on those comments, they are indicative of the dismissive attitude that still prevails in many corners of sport, that female athletes are just not as valuable or worthy as their male counterparts.

So this is a win for the US women’s team current and former members not only in terms of hard cash but, perhaps most significantly, it is a win for the players coming through in the future.

It should be noted that this development has only been agreed in principle and has yet to be finalised, but it seems unimaginable that the end result won’t be equal pay soon.

More and more sports and organisations are beginning to realise the importance of offering equal pay, but there are still many dissenters with a sizeable minority arguing that since men, in some sports at least, play for longer, run faster or jump higher, they are deserving of more

But that’s not purely what equal pay is about. It is about respect and appreciation of athletes at the top of their game, whether they be male or female.

It is sad it took six years in court for the US women’s side to reach this point. And that the equality they have now achieved is so begrudged by at least a few of those who hold much of the power.

But the fact they have finally won this long battle is proof that female sport is worth just as much as men’s sport.


The consequences of Novak Djokovic’s decision not to get the Covid vaccine continue.  Last week, after losing in the quarter-finals of the Dubai Open, it was confirmed the Serb will lose his top spot to Russia’s Daniil Medvedev in tomorrow’s updated world rankings.

Dubai was Djokovic’s first competitive appearance of the year following the debacle in Australia which saw him deported and so unable to defend his Australian Open crown.

The 35-year-old’s defeat came off the back of a BBC interview in which he said he was willing to forfeit the chance to be the sport’s undisputed GOAT to stick to his stance of remaining unvaccinated.

This loss of the No.1 ranking, having held it for a total of 361 weeks, is just the latest blow to Djokovic, although it is a sacrifice he is clearly willing to make.

Only time will tell quite how damaging Djokovic’s decision will be to his legacy in the long term, but the more consequences he faces, the more remarkable his decision and  stubbornness become.