Senator introduces bill to withhold 2026 World Cup funds until USWNT paid equally

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, of West Virginia, introduced a bill Tuesday that would prohibit federal funds from being used for the 2026 World Cup unless the men's and women's national teams are paid equally.

Manchin's office issued a press release stating that the senator was inspired to create the bill after receiving a letter from Nikki Izzo-Brown, head coach for women's soccer at West Virginia University.

"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's latest victory is causing public outcry," Manchin said in a statement. "They are the best in the world and deserve to be paid accordingly."

The bill proposes that federal funds would not be appropriated to provide support for the 2026 World Cup, which will be held jointly by the U.S., Canada and Mexico. That support includes money for host cities, participating state or local agencies, the U.S. Soccer Federation, Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF), and Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA).

Funds would not be made available or appropriated until the teams - which are managed by the nonprofit U.S. Soccer Federation - are paid equally.

The issue has become a hot topic since the U.S. Women's National Team sued U.S. Soccer over equal pay and treatment. In the middle of the team dominating the World Cup, the federation and USWNT agreed to take the lawsuit to mediation.

When the women won their second-straight World Cup title and fourth overall, the crowd in France chanted "equal pay."

The women's World Cup record, as well as their four Olympic gold medals and No. 1 ranking these last 10 years were outlined as some of the reasons for better compensation in the lawsuit.

The team also generated more revenue than men's games as well as drew in more viewers for their World Cup final compared to the 2018 men's final.

This story was reported from Los Angeles.