WASHINGTON – Democratic lawmakers — including U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland — have introduced a bill requiring the U.S. Soccer Federation to agree to providing equitable pay to both the women’s and men’s national teams in order to receive federal funds related to hosting the 2026 World Cup.

The U.S. women’s team has been more successful on the world stage than the U.S. men’s team. But the Democratic lawmakers — including U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Mark Warner of Virginia and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York — point out that the women’s players make $28,333 less than “a similarly situated player on the men’s team.”

They want that to change and are tying federal help for the 2026 men’s World Cup to better pay equity.

“The U.S. Women’s Soccer team are reigning champions on the field, but also champions in leading the national conversation on equal pay,” Cardin said in a statement. “I am proud to support the GOALS Act to close the inexcusable pay gap between female and male athletes, bolstering our collective efforts on gender equity and equality.”

The U.S. women’s team is the top ranked national team in the world and have won multiple World Cups, according to FIFA (soccer’s world governing body). The U.S. men’s team ranks 20th among national teams, according to FIFA’s men’s rankings.

“Our athletes deserve to be treated with respect and dignity, and they also deserve to be appropriately compensated for their achievements — no matter their gender,” said Senator Van Hollen. “We must heed the call of our national team players to end gender pay inequities once and for all, which is why I support this bill and will continue working in Congress to close the gender pay gap.”

The U.S. is co-hosting the 2026 World Cup and federal money could be appropriated to host cities as well as for security and infrastructure. Baltimore, Washington D.C., Philadelphia and New York are among the potential sites to host games.

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