Interesting priorities: Procter & Gamble donates more than half a million bucks to U.S. Soccer women for pay gap

One of the sponsors of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team is stepping into the gender pay gap debate with a radical move.

Procter & Gamble, via its Secret deodorant brand, announced on Sunday that it will be donating $529,000 to the women’s national team’s players association.

(Photo by Craig Mercer/MB Media/Getty Images)

The amount was made up of a $23,000 donation for each of the 23 members of the four-time Women’s World Cup champions and was announced in a full-page ad in the New York Times and other publications.

“We’re taking action to help close the @USWNT gender pay gap,” the company said, stating that the women’s soccer team “just made history. But they have always deserved equal pay.”

“We proudly stand up and give the number 23 a new meaning. We are doing our part to help close the pay gap by giving the Players Association over half a million dollars — $529,000 to be exact — the equivalent of $23,000 for each of the 23 players,” the company wrote in the ad.

“But after all the toasts, cheers, parades and awards subside, the issue remains,” the ad continued as it urged the U.S. Soccer Federation to “be on the right side of history.”

“Inequality is about more than pay and players; it’s about values. Let’s take this moment of celebration to propel women’s sports forward,” the ad concluded. “We urge the U.S. Soccer Federation to be a beacon of strength and end gender pay inequality once and for all, for all players.”

The USWNT filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation earlier this year in response to what they have argued is gender discrimination, with outspoken team captain Megan Rapinoe regularly condemning the alleged unfair pay difference. The issue has gained more attention since the World Cup victory by the women’s team last week.

Crowds at the championship game even broke into a chant of “Equal Pay!”

At last week’s New York City ticker-tape parade to honor the team’s FIFA World Cup win, USSF president Carlos Cordeiro remarked on the debate during his speech.

“We will continue to invest more in women’s soccer than any country in the world and we will continue to encourage others, including our friends at FIFA, to do the same,” Cordeiro said, according to Fox Business.

“We believe that at US Soccer all female athletes deserve fair and equitable pay. And together I believe we can get this done because as this team has taught us, being the greatest isn’t just about how you play on the field, it’s about what you stand for off the field,” he added, as the crowd interrupted with boos and chanting “equal pay.”

Ahead of the event, Democratic New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an equal pay bill into law.

Cuomo declared that the women play the same game as their male counterparts, “only better.”

West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin introduced legislation that would block any future funding for the 2026 World Cup, which is set to be hosted in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, unless the women’s team is awarded equal pay.

“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. They are the best in the world and deserve to be paid accordingly,” Manchin said in a statement.

“Each year, women in the U.S lose $513B in wages because of the gender pay gap. What can we do to ensure pay equality is achieved as soon as possible?” Secret asked in a video of female athletes and the fight for pay equality.

(Video: YouTube/Secret)

The brand has been touting the fight against the pay gap for some time pledging donations and other forms of support in advertising and other methods.

In an interview with MSNBC’s Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press” Sunday, Rapinoe responded to the response to the pay gap issue from sponsors.

“Are you disappointed in the way corporate America’s handled this, your sponsors?” Todd asked.

“Yeah, I am. I think that we can do a lot more a lot more quickly. I think that it is a complicated issue and I think sometimes we get in the weeds about it, can’t see the forest for the trees, when big sponsors can just write the check,” she replied.

“These are some of the most powerful corporations, not just in sports but in the world and have so much weight that they can throw around,” Rapinoe added. “And I think that they just need to get comfortable throwing it around.”

But Proctor & Gamble’s decision to throw their weight around on this issue seemed to already be earning them some backlash.


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