Commentary: In the fight for equal treatment, some footballers emerge as gracious leaders for change | Opinion

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While looking for a writing project, I began to take a closer look at women’s football, including the United States Women’s National Team and the National Women’s Soccer League.

Both organizations include world-class players, and these athletes are not immune to the effects of toxic divide and human disruption that are pervasive in our society.

During the Summer Olympics, former President Donald Trump encouraged rally attendees to boo the Women’s National Team and, after the team failed to qualify for the gold medal game , said that if “our football team, led by a radical leftist group The Maniacs weren’t awake, they would have won the gold medal instead of the bronze.” Likewise, Trump antagonist National Team star Megan Rapinoe tweeted inflammatory comments following allegations of harassment and sexual abuse affecting the National Women’s Football League: “Burn it all. Let their heads roll.

Policymakers and fans should look beyond the warriors of performative culture and take note of the efforts of quieter, more impactful leaders and organizational builders such as former Chicago Red Star Christen Press, Alex Morgan of Orlando Pride and National Team Captain Becky Sauerbrunn.

These leaders and many others have been at the forefront of struggles for equal pay and safe working conditions both within the National Team and the NWSL and in raising awareness of the challenges of human rights such as the safe withdrawal of the Afghanistan women’s national football team following the recent takeover. by the Taliban.

The national team have been at the center of an equal pay battle since March 2019. The players sued the American Football Federation (US Soccer) for more than $ 66 million in damages under the law. on equal pay and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, arguing that they had not been paid fairly under their collective agreement, which expires this month, compared to what the Men’s national team receives under its deal, which expired in December 2018.

In May 2020, a United States District Court judge dismissed the equal pay claim, which is now under appeal, but allowed part of the claim regarding working conditions to be adjudicated, which led to a subsequent positive settlement.

The lawsuit also prompted US Soccer in September to offer identical contracts to player associations for the two national teams. However, US Soccer refuses to accept a deal unless the World Cup prize money is matched. This is a significant sticking point since FIFA, the international football governing body, offers a much larger prize pool for men than for women and the US men’s team is not. required to negotiate jointly with the women’s team.

Rather than vague legislative moves such as the GOALS Act, in which Congress would ban the use of funds for the 2026 Men’s World Cup unless a “fair wage” is provided to both national teams, the right way to solve this complex, and difficult to define. The problem is that the three parties concerned immediately engage in good faith, potentially revolutionary negotiations at the negotiating table.

In contrast, effective congressional oversight has helped advance demands by the NWSL Players Association to put player safety at the forefront of recent league reform efforts, following pervasive allegations of verbal harassment and harassment. sexual abuse leading to the dismissal of four head coaches (one fifth was dismissed “for cause”).

The latest resignation came in late November when the former Red Stars head coach suddenly resigned before multiple allegations of verbal and emotional abuse by former players were detailed in a Washington Post report.

Thanks in part to the efforts of U.S. Representative Deborah Ross, DN.C., and 41 of her colleagues, the NWSL recently accepted the eight demands made by the players’ association, including “an investigative committee underway. creation, security protocols being memorized and changes are made to ensure that players’ voices are heard.

For our society as a whole, these leaders demonstrate that change is possible when there are many organizations and institutions in need of deep revitalization, be it football leagues, political parties, d ‘businesses or churches. These are individuals that researcher Yuval Levin refers to in his insightful book “Time to Build” as people who respond constructively to this key question: Given my role in this organization or institution, how should I behave?

Perhaps the most important legacy of these leaders, however, is to give our young people positive examples of agency – the belief that someone can take action to positively shape the world around them. As a new Gallup poll shows that only 44% of women are happy with the way society treats them, and only 33% of women believe they have the same job opportunities as men, these inspiring role models are more necessary than ever. .

Andrew Eastmond is a member of the Leadership Network of the American Enterprise Institute.


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