As the union for national team players works out the details of a historic equitable pay agreement with U.S. Soccer, the players are looking to expand their influence into programs that benefit other women.
The U.S. Women’s National Team Players Association on Thursday announced a new initiative with the nonprofit Kiva, committing $2.5 million US in no-fee, no-interest loan capital to more than 400 small businesses — with a focus on women and underserved communities.
“The U.S. women’s national team stands for so much more than just the fact that we’re soccer players and this is the time to really lean into our fight for pay equity, and economic justice is an extension of that,” defender Crystal Dunn said.
Kiva, based in San Francisco, crowdfunds loans to entrepreneurs in underserved communities across the globe who might not have access to traditional loans. Some 81 per cent of Kiva’s borrowers are women.
The four-year partnership was announced in advance of International Women’s Day on March 8. For every $25 loaned to the businesses highlighted on Kiva’s USWNTPA’s website, the union will match the contribution.
U.S. Soccer pledges to equalize pay between the men’s and women’s national teams
While the players champion economic equity, they also are negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement with U.S. Soccer.
The two sides announced a breakthrough last week, with U.S. Soccer pledging to equalize pay between the men’s and women’s national teams. The federation also agreed to pay $24 million to settle a gender discrimination lawsuit filed by some of the women’s team players in 2019.
But the settlement hinges on the two sides coming together to reach a new collective bargaining agreement. The deadline is March 31.
Dunn, as secretary of the union, has been active in bargaining with U.S. Soccer. At the same time that her teammates held a virtual news conference to tout the agreement last week, Dunn was at the negotiating table.
“I do feel like it is moving in the right direction. And yes, the deadline is approaching but we’ve upped our sessions, we’re meeting constantly throughout the week, and I am very hopeful that we are going to reach an agreement,” Dunn said. “I think the relationship is building, it’s getting stronger.
Dunn, who was on the U.S. squad that won the World Cup in 2019, is pregnant with her first child, so she’s not currently playing for either the national team or her club, the Portland Thorns. The union gives her a new platform to use her voice.
“I would say I feel like I have this incredible perspective where, I’m still around a lot of soccer players on a daily basis, but I get to take this step back and really see what changes and impact I want to help make,” Dunn said. “I get to really dive into such a new journey, and I’m so excited about that.”