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Soccer star Brandi Chastain: Gender pay gap persists because of ‘fear'

Seana Smith
·Anchor
·3-min read

As the battle for equal pay persists, World Cup Champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brandi Chastain said it’s time for change, telling Yahoo Finance the reason the gender pay gap persists is because of "fear."

“I think it's fear, letting go of control, and getting into the unknown. Change is hard for a lot of people,” said Chastain, who is well known for her game-winning penalty kick in the 1999 World Cup.

“I'm exhausted talking about it because this is not a new topic. We have been talking about this with the Women's National Team since 1999, that's over 20 years ago," Chastain added. "Let's invest in women and see the return that you can get. We will not let you down.”

ST. LOUIS, MO - MAY 16: Former United States player Brandi Chastain looks on after game action during an international friendly match between the United States woman's national team and the New Zealand women's national team on May 16, 2019 at Busch Stadium, in St. Louis, MO. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - MAY 16: Former United States player Brandi Chastain looks on after game action during an international friendly match between the United States woman's national team and the New Zealand women's national team on May 16, 2019 at Busch Stadium, in St. Louis, MO. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

A judge approved a partial settlement over unequal working conditions between the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) and the U.S. National Women’s Team (USWNT) this week, clearing the way for players to appeal the court’s equal pay ruling last May.

The approval by U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner is a step in the right direction as it ensures women will be given equitable access to charter flights, venue selection, hotel accommodations and support staff.

"We are pleased that the Court has approved the equal working conditions that the USWNT Players have fought for many years to achieve,” players’ spokesperson Molly Levinson said in a statement to Yahoo Finance. “Finally, giving these athletes access to facilities, training, care, and professional support is the next step needed in the long and hard work to grow the game of women’s football.”

U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team player Megan Rapinoe, visiting Biden administration members on 'Equal Pay Day' symbolic of the gender pay gap, poses for pictures at the lectern in the press briefing room at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 24, 2021. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team player Megan Rapinoe, visiting Biden administration members on 'Equal Pay Day' symbolic of the gender pay gap, poses for pictures at the lectern in the press briefing room at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 24, 2021. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

But the fight is far from over.

“Now that this is behind us, we intend to appeal the court’s equal pay decision, which does not account for the fact that women players have been paid at lesser rates than men who do the same job,” Levinson added.

In a statement following the settlement, the USSF said it remains hopeful that it can come to a resolution outside of court.

“U.S. Soccer is 100% committed to equal pay... Our request to meet still stands, and we hope the USWNT will accept our invitation very soon," the USSF said in the statement. "We look forward to working together to chart a positive path to grow the game both here at home and around the world.”

While the fight for equal pay still has a ways to go, Chastain is optimistic that something will finally get done now that the players on the U.S. Women's National Team are speaking out about "why there is a necessity, and really, the need for everybody just to wake up in this moment and recognize that this should be an equal platform."

Chastain added that having big name supporters also helps. “I believe the climate is right, having advocates such as LeBron James, having incredible examples such as Sue Bird," she said.

Seana Smith anchors Yahoo Finance Live’s 3-5 p.m. ET program. Follow her on Twitter @SeanaNSmith

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