Adidas announced Friday that any Adidas-sponsored athletes on the team that wins the FIFA Women’s World Cup will, for the first time, receive bonuses in the same amounts as their male counterparts, Reuters reports.
The move comes on the heels of a lawsuit between the U.S. Women’s National Team and their federation, claiming gender discrimination as evidenced by disparities in pay and treatment between the men’s team and the women’s team. Per the lawsuit, players claim they have endured years of institutionalized gender discrimination in addition to lower pay compared to the men. They also point out that their training facilities have been inferior, as has the management of their medical treatments.
The women pointed out that this disparity existed even as their own results on the field had exceeded those of the men. Last year the men’s team did not qualify for the World Cup in Russia, while the women are preparing to defend their title in France this June.
“At the heart of this whole issue, we believe that it’s the right thing,” star forward Megan Rapinoe said. “We believe that there has been discrimination against us. Representatives for the team have also pointed out that the independent collective bargaining agreements in place separately between the men and the women have also contributed to the widening gap as each team has negotiated vastly different compensation packages and other amenities.”
Eric Liedtke, head of global brands for Adidas, spoke out this week to encourage the female athletes.
“Today we are announcing that all Adidas athletes on the winning 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup team will receive the same performance bonus payout as their male peers,” Liedtke said in a public statement. “We believe in inspiring and enabling the next generation of female athletes, creators and leaders through breaking barriers.”
Some prominent fellow athletes have lent their voices in support of the U.S. team’s lawsuit, including tennis players Serena Williams, Bille Jean King, and Sloane Stephens.
The announcement from Adidas was widely praised on social media and elsewhere with celebrities, brands, and fans reacting to the news of equal pay for the women athletes.
“This is such amazing news for the women athletes,” wrote one Twitter user.
“Equal pay for equal play,” posted Adidas, as they initially shared their announcement.
The announcement was timed to coincide with Friday’s International Women’s Day, which has emerged as an annual focal point for issues regarding women’s rights. The day has been celebrated since 1909.