Megan Rapinoe isn't thinking of the U.S. Soccer Federation when she pulls on the United States national women's soccer team jersey.
Instead the two-time World Cup champion is thinking of equal pay and the next wave of players who want to be her, so she doesn't feel in conflict still fighting the organization.
Rapinoe wears jersey for equal pay
OL Reign star Rapinoe and USWNT players are still fighting their equal pay case against the federation. The two sides settled in December on an unequal working condition claim without going to court. It opened the door for the players to appeal an earlier decision on wage discrimination claims under the Equal Pay Act.
"I would much rather be spending my time doing absolutely anything else other than fighting the federation all the time for something I feel like I deserve, but that is part of it," Rapinoe told ESPN when asked how difficult is it to separate wearing the jersey, and fighting the federation. "For me, when I pull on the shirt, I'm not thinking about the federation.
"I see them [U.S. Soccer executives] pulling up to the game and I think: That's cute, that's nice.
"I feel like I pull on this shirt for equal pay and for the fans and for kids who want to be in my position. So that never feels in conflict."
The USWNT players are going to proceed with an appeal this spring. The initial lawsuit was filed in March 2019. Since the lawsuit filing, the USWNT won another World Cup title and both SheBelieves Cup tournaments on their home soil in 2020 and 2021. They are currently preparing for the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics this summer.
Women's soccer viewership climbs
Viewership for the 2021 SheBelieves Cup was up more than 100 percent over the numbers for 2019, when the tournament was also on Fox Sports channels. The 2020 cup was on ESPN.
The group stage win over Canada broke viewing records that were dropped again when the U.S. played Brazil. It was the most-watched SheBelieves Cup match on FS1.
"It's ironic all the time. We play in full stadiums most of the time. We win most of the games," Rapinoe said, via ESPN. "Sponsorships for all of us individually are up. We won the World Cup. We entertain. We do everything we are asked to do so it is frustrating."
The NWSL experienced a massive ratings boost in 2020 with its Challenge Cup. All 23 games were broadcasted on CBS All Access with one game a week on the CBS linear networks. While other major professional sports have experienced a decline in TV viewership, the NWSL and WNBA both grew in 2020 with the benefit of a better TV deal.
USWNT to play France in Olympic tune-up
The USWNT added another stop on their Olympic tune-up tour this spring. The team will face France on April 13 in Stockholm, U.S. Soccer announced. It will be on ESPN2.
It's the first meeting since the U.S. won, 2-1, in the 2019 World Cup quarterfinal. Rapinoe scored two goals.
The match is three days after a previously announced one. The U.S. will take on Sweden on April 10 on FOX.
The group has five wins so far this calendar year and head coach Vlatko Andonovski has tough decisions on who he will take to Tokyo for the 18-player roster.
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