When the U.S. women's national soccer team filed a gender discrimination lawsuit in early March 2019, few thought it'd play out with a $24 million settlement almost three full years later (more than $40 million less than what was originally requested).
Even still, the pièce de résistance was the joint CBAs with the United States Soccer Federation, United States Women's National Team Players Association and the United States National Soccer Team Players Association, running through 2028 -- and establishing truly equal pay.
The battle was harsh, public and exceedingly turbulent, but, in May, U.S. Soccer became the first world football federation to award equal FIFA World Cup prize money to the men's and women's national team players for participating in a World Cup.
In July, the USWNT Players Association launched its own official store, with the aim of "raising the level of women's soccer domestically and continuing to grow the game worldwide."
On Monday, to honor the CBA ratification, the USWNTPA debuted a special set of gear: the Stella Nova collection, the very first jersey created by the USWNTPA. The players' association notes that, with 2022 being the 50th anniversary of Title IX, their recognition wouldn't be possible without the fierce and devoted women who came before.
"We are so proud of the hard work and dedication our membership has put in to get this CBA agreement done," said Sam Mewis, USWNTPA vice president and treasurer. "The Stella Nova collection" -- unsubtly: "new star" -- "is a physical way we can extend the celebration of the moment to our supporters."
Along with the jersey -- created with Icarus FC, a Philadelphia-based manufacturer with a variety of inclusive sizing, from youth small to adult 3XL -- there's a Stella Nova scarf, offered by Ruffneck, the official scarf of not only the USWNTPA but also MLS, U.S. Soccer, the USL, the NCAA and the MLS Players Association.
The jersey was designed with past, present and future in mind: The collar features the slogan "EQUAL PLAY EQUAL PAY," noting the yearslong fight and ultimate victory; the years the USWNT emerged victorious in major tournaments (1991, 1999, 2015, 2019) are immortalized on the cuffs of each sleeve; the 18 stars and 23 stripes on the outside of the jersey -- and the scarf, which also features the aforementioned years -- recall the roster sizes for those tournaments.
"Jerseys and scarves are such significant symbols in soccer culture, and [the] best pieces to commemorate this historical year," says Annie Reid, the USWNTPA's strategic business director.