Senator proposes blocking men's World Cup funds until U.S. women's team gets equal pay

"They are the best in the world and deserve to be paid accordingly," Sen. Joe Manchin said of the USWNT.
Image: United States of America v Netherlands : Final - 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup France
Megan Rapinoe of the USA lifts the FIFA Women's World Cup Trophy following her team's victory in the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup France Final match between The United States of America and The Netherlands at Stade de Lyon in Lyon, France on July 07, 2019.Alex Grimm / Getty Images

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By Doha Madani

West Virginia Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin announced a bill Tuesday to withhold federal dollars for the men's World Cup unless the U.S. women's national soccer team receives pay equity.

Manchin's proposed bill would deny federal funding for the men's 2026 FIFA tournament, which the U.S. will co-host along with Canada and Mexico, unless there's equal pay between both the men's and women's soccer teams.

"The clear unequitable pay between the U.S. men’s and women’s soccer teams is unacceptable and I’m glad the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team latest victory is causing public outcry," Senator Manchin said. "They are the best in the world and deserve to be paid accordingly."

Manchin said that his inspiration for the bill was a letter from West Virginia University (WVU) Women’s Soccer Head Coach, Nikki Izzo-Brown.

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Izzo-Brown's letter to Manchin pointed out that the women's team makes a profit while the men, who did not qualify for the 2018 World Cup, produce a net loss.

"The inequality of pay is unjust and this wage gap with the US men’s national team has to stop," Izzo-Brown wrote. "The women have won four titles, men none; the women’s viewership in the FIFA World Cup final outdrew the men in the United States by over three million ( men 11.4 , women 14.3)."

Manchin's bill would cut funding to the host cities and all participating organizations, including the U.S. Soccer Federation, Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF), and Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA).

Prior to the World Cup, the U.S. women's team filed a federal lawsuit, accusing the U.S. Soccer Federation of engaging in "institutionalized gender discrimination" reflected in differences in pay, medical care, travel arrangements and overall workload for the men's and women's teams.

Since winning their fourth World Cup title on Sunday, the U.S. women's team has renewed the debate for gender equity in sports. Crowds in France began to chant "equal pay" after the team beat the Netherlands in a 2-0 victory.

Team co-captain Megan Rapinoe said on ABC's "Good Morning America" on Tuesday that the conversation on equal pay needs to move beyond asking whether the women's team is worth more money and begin to question what can be done next.

"How can FIFA support the federations?" Rapinoe asked. "How can federations support their players better? How can the league support their players better?”

The U.S Soccer Federation did not immediately respond to a request for comment by NBC News.