By Katie Paul and Amy Tennery
(Reuters) – Two-time World Cup winner Megan Rapinoe has been at the forefront of the U.S. national women’s team’s fight for gender pay equity but the fiery forward has told Reuters she also hopes for more investment in the domestic league and better pay for club players.
Earlier this month, the U.S. National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) announced new compensation guidelines for 2020, including a nearly 20 percent increase in the overall salary cap as well as allocation money allowing teams to invest in some players above the maximum salary.
However, the funds cannot be used to pay players who are members of the U.S. and Canadian national teams, a move that Rapinoe, a standout for the NWSL’s Reign FC, criticised.
“We need to sit down and have more substantive conversations about what that looks like,” the Californian told Reuters when asked about the allocated fund provisions. “It’s going to be a necessary step before the NWSL gets going next year.”
The NWSL could not immediately respond to a request for comment.
With a trial date set for May for the U.S. women’s national team’s gender discrimination lawsuit against their governing body, the squad faces the possibility of a Summer Olympics training schedule clouded by legal issues.
Rapinoe has emerged as a larger-than-life figure in the sport after the United States’ World Cup victory in France this year.
In addition to her outspoken criticism of U.S. President Donald Trump, she also serves as the face of a Budweiser advertising campaign that debuted in the run-up to the NWSL championship last month.
While attendances in the league increased to an average of 7,337 per game in 2019, Rapinoe said she is frustrated by the progress made.
“More resources need to be put into the front office of the NWSL,” added Rapinoe, who has said she would like to compete in the 2023 World Cup before she hangs up her boots.
As for her plans after she retires, the 34-year-old is focused on creating a pathway toward a role in the business of the NWSL, and is an advocate for a rumoured expansion team in Sacramento, or perhaps even Los Angeles.
She would also jump at the chance to be in charge of a team.
“I’d be a great owner. I want to own one of these teams,” said Rapinoe.
“If the only thing that’s said about us is how inspiring we are to little girls, then our marketing plan is a complete and utter failure,” said Rapinoe. “Make me want to go to the game.”
(Editing by Peter Rutherford)