(NEW YORK) — Missy Park, CEO and founder of athletic brand Title Nine, is supporting the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team in a big way.
This week, Park announced that the women’s adventure and outdoor apparel retailer will contribute $1 million to USWNT players to support their fight for equal pay. In addition, Title Nine established the “Kick In For Equal Pay” initiative, where the company will match any donations up to $250,000.
“My hope with this contribution is that we all are conscious of the small and large things that we can do,” Park told “Good Morning America.”
Park, a former athlete at Yale University and an beneficiary of Title IX, a federal civil rights law that was passed to prohibit sex-based discrimination in schools or education programs that receives federal money, said she was compelled to support USWNT players after watching the HBO Max documentary “LFG,” which chronicles their ongoing fight for equal pay.
In March 2019, the players sued the U.S. Soccer Federation for gender discrimination, despite the courts having dismissed their equal pay claims last year. While competing at the Olympics, the team filed an appeal stating the ruling “penalized the USWNT players for their success.”
“These women, they play more games, they win more games, and yet they are paid less, so I was really mad about that,” Park said. “But then I also realized I’m kind of mad at myself. Like, it’s not just up to U.S. Soccer to fix this — it’s up to all of us.”
In a statement to ABC News, the U.S. Soccer Federation said it is “committed to fair and equal pay for our Women’s National Team players – and for all women.”
“Comparing only the game bonuses our Men’s and Women’s National Teams receive ignores the $100,000 annual salary that U.S. Soccer pays members of the Women’s National Team. The USWNT Players Association negotiated and agreed to a contract that provides guaranteed annual salaries and benefits, in addition to game bonuses. Due to this contract structure, they receive lower game bonuses than the Men’s National Team, who do not receive salaries or benefits and are paid only on a “pay to play” basis,” the statement continues. “Right now, we are focused on supporting the Women’s National Team in their quest to win a fifth Olympic Gold Medal. Moving ahead, we will continue to work with the team and its players association to chart a positive path forward.”
Park’s decision to contribute to the USWNT’s fight for equal pay is also a personal one. As a mother of two kids who both have big athletic dreams, Park wants to make sure they’re both able to pursue them in a way that’s equal.
“I have a son, Leo. And he’s a basketball player. And I have a daughter, she’s a soccer player, amongst other things,” she said. “I think about Leo when he was young — he dreamed of being in the NBA. You know he could dream of making a living doing that … My daughter is a soccer player — shouldn’t she have that dream, too? Don’t we want all our sons and daughters to have the same dreams?”
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