Heard on the Hill

Joe Manchin wants to block funding 2026 World Cup until women’s team gets equal pay

Competition to be hosted in North America would require federal support

Sen. Joe Manchin III wants to block funding for the 2026 World Cup until women athletes get equal pay. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A Senate appropriator wants to block spending of federal money to support the 2026 men’s World Cup until the U.S. women’s team receives equal pay.

West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin III unveiled the two-page bill Tuesday afternoon that would block the use of funds to support the 2026 World Cup matches, which are scheduled to be shared among Canada, Mexico and the United States as part of a joint bid.

The proposal from Manchin following the U.S. women’s team’s World Cup victory in France came after receiving a letter from the head women’s soccer coach at West Virginia University, Nikki Izzo-Brown.

“Working with women as the Women’s Soccer Coach at West Virginia University for over twenty four years and earning 17 Conference Championships, 20 NCAA appearances, and producing 25 professional players, I believe first hand, it is wrong for the US Soccer women to be paid and valued less for their work because of gender,” Izzo-Brown wrote.

“I received a letter from Coach Izzo-Brown highlighting her worries that women on the WVU Women’s Soccer Team could one day make the U.S. women’s team and not get paid the same as the men’s team. That’s just plain wrong,” Manchin responded in a statement. “That’s why I’m introducing legislation that will require the U.S. Soccer Federation to pay the men’s and women’s national soccer teams equitably before any federal funds may be used for the 2026 World Cup.”

Hosting major international sporting events like the world Cup requires significant federal investment for security and infrastructure support.

Several lawmakers have already called for U.S. Soccer to resolve the disparity in pay between men and women in the sport, and Congress has jurisdiction over Olympic and amateur sports under the Ted Stevens Act.

While it is unclear what the prospects for Manchin’s bill might be in a standalone form, as a member of the Appropriations Committee he could seek to offer it as an amendment to any of several fiscal 2020 spending bills if an agreement is reached on top-line spending.

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