U.S. Soccer president Cindy Parlow Cone asks player associations to agree on equalizing FIFA's World Cup prize money

U.S. Soccer president Cindy Parlow Cone says the labor issues that have been hanging over the federation in recent years can't be resolved without settling the differences in the amounts of bonuses paid out for play in the men's and women's World Cup.

“Coming to a resolution on the World Cup prize money will be key to our separate collective bargaining negotiations with the USMNT and USWNT,” Parlow Cone wrote in an open letter released on Friday.

U.S. Soccer's collective bargaining agreement with the U.S. National Soccer Team Players Association, which represents the men, expired at the end of 2018. The federation and men have been negotiating on the terms of a new agreement. The agreement with the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team Players Association expires at the end of the year.

“We see an opportunity to create change,” Parlow Cone said. “We need our men’s and women’s national teams to come together and re-think how we’ve done things in the past. To that end, we have invited the players and both players’ associations to join US Soccer in negotiating a solution together that equalizes World Cup prize money between the USMNT and USWNT.

"Finding a framework that works for everyone will require open and thoughtful conversations and sincere commitment from USMNT and USWNT players to come together. Until FIFA equalizes the prize money that it awards to the men’s and women’s World Cup participants, it is incumbent upon us to collectively find a solution.”

FIFA awarded $400 million in prize money for the federations of the 32 teams at the 2018 men’s World Cup, including $38 million to the French federation for its team's championship in Russia. It awarded $30 million for the 24 teams at the 2019 Women’s World Cup, including $4 million to U.S. Soccer after the Americans won their second straight title.

The high percentages of prize moneys U.S. Soccer has paid out to the men and women and other compensation are such that the New York Times reported that the U.S. men’s and women’s teams are believed to be the two highest-compensated national teams in the world.

Most federations don't pay out all the money it receives from FIFA. The members and staff of the French national team received about $8 million after its 2018 title. The other $30 million went to cover the costs of participating in the tournament and to support regional amateur leagues. Some federations have equalized pay between men and women by offering equal per-game bonuses and per-diem payments and offering equal percentages of the so-called prize money, but they are not equal amounts, far from it.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino has proposed to double the women’s prize money to $60 million for the 2023 Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, where the field will be increased from 24 to 32 teams. The prize money for the men will be increased from $400 million to $440 million for Qatar 2022, many the amount men's prize money is increased ($40 million) still larger than the amount the women's prize money is increased ($30 million).

The agreement U.S. Soccer has maintained with U.S. women's national team players has included salaries and other benefits to help make up for the fact that they have traditionally been poorly compensated, if they got paid at all, by clubs. (In six of the last 20 years there was no Division I pro women's league in the United States.) Many of the men's national players have multi-million dollar club contracts so whatever agreement they have for playing for the national team generates his a fraction of their income.

“That’s our challenge as a federation, and that’s what the women are fighting for,” Cone said. “We talk about the different structures, and that’s part of the problem — it’s hard to reach equal when they don’t want the exact same thing — but the main challenge is the massive discrepancy in World Cup prize money."

11 comments about "U.S. Soccer president Cindy Parlow Cone asks player associations to agree on equalizing FIFA's World Cup prize money".
  1. Wayne Norris, September 11, 2021 at 10:34 a.m.

    Let's stop the chatter and put it down on spreadsheets. Bottom line is US Soccer cannot be expected to cover the FIFA WC bonus delta.

    Send Rapinoe and others to pasture someone reasonable can step in and negotiate for USWNT.

  2. Bob Ashpole replied, September 11, 2021 at 11:05 p.m.

    Wayne, you are missing the point. What FIFA pays the federation is not relevant. It is what bonus USSF promises to pay to the men and how it compares to what promise was made to the women.

  3. James Madison, September 11, 2021 at 7:15 p.m.

    If F

    IFA continues to pay differently for the men and women, what US Soccer should really do is take the money out of its own pocket to make up the difference for our own women.

  4. Wooden Ships replied, September 12, 2021 at 9:05 a.m.

    Are you being sarcastic? Until the scale of the women reaches the men (regardless of success) this is no longer worthy of discussion. Correcting inequities in playing surface, travel, lodging, per diem, etc., is needed. 

  5. frank schoon replied, September 12, 2021 at 10:18 a.m.

    Ships, well said!

  6. Bob Ashpole replied, September 14, 2021 at 5:35 p.m.

    WS: what do you mean by "scale of the women"?

    I cannot understand where you are going with that. USSF TV revenues are irrelevant because no one is paid on a commission basis.

    Generally speaking, just about everybody compares apples to oranges. NWSL salary cannot be be legally included in the EPA comparison because the USSF is not the MNT players club employer. By doing so, the women's pay is overstated. The comparison is legally limited to copensation for participation in national team events.

    The other odd detail is that USSF is making conflicting arguments in the EPA case. 1. Women are paid less because female player is not the same job as male player. (This argument is usually quickly rejected. It is like arguing blacks deserve less pay because they are inferior, which is not an argument that I would ever make to a federal judge.) 2. The WNT was paid more than the MNT. (This argument is flawed because the EPA requires rates paid to individuals to be compared. Women compared to lowest rate paid to a male. Looking for any women that were paid at a rate less than a man. If a woman is paid at the same or higher rate than a man, that is only relevant to that women's EPA case.)

    What ultimately happens with this case will be very interesting to labor lawyers.

  7. Peter Kurilecz, September 11, 2021 at 11:49 p.m.

    the women get an annual salary and a host of other benefits that the men dont. Does the womens WC bring in the same amount of money as the men's
    The proposal reminds me of tip pooling in restaurants

  8. Donald Lee, September 12, 2021 at 9:20 a.m.

    The men and women should have identical deals, which means they get identical percentages of FIFA prize money.  

    The idea that USSF should make up the difference between mens and womens prize money is just a demand to be subsidized.  It is not sustainable.  Should the women have to share their prize money with the men?  How is that right?  Vice versa is no more right.

  9. Bob Ashpole replied, September 15, 2021 at 4:32 p.m.

    The EPA does not apply to FIFA prize money paid to national FAs. It is a red herring spread by opponents of equal pay--including USSF under past management. 

    Insulting language in legal filings lead to the USSF president's resignation. I am glad that USSF has moved forward into the 20th century, but we are now in the 21st century.

  10. cheese Pony, September 15, 2021 at 9:17 a.m.

    All - great points all, but I have ONE QUESTION that I simply can't find the answer to: Is the equal pay going to be equal % compensation or is USSF going to have to make up for the disparity?

    I'm all for equal travel, per diems, training facilities, etc.... but you don't pay the same price for a Mercedes as you do for a Subaru.  It's not the USSF's fault people aren't willing to pay hte same to watch women's soccer.  Nothing against the game, but if the product on the field was as good, advertisers would be paying $440M to see it.  They're not.  The women want it both ways. They wasn't the salary bc their game doesnt pay.  But they want to get paid the same, and they dont want to include the salary as part of comp package?  Sorry there are only 3-5 nations w a women's team worth watching... PS-the Chicago watch party for the womens final (bf men's USA-Mexico match) was EPIC!!!

  11. Bob Ashpole replied, September 15, 2021 at 4:24 p.m.

    There is so much wrong with your comment that I don't know where to begin. No one is paid on a commission basis, so what matters is a camparison of the pay rates for men and women. That would include promised performance incentives.

    The EPA outlaws gender discrimination. Same job, same pay rates. Calling women Sabarus and deserving less pay for the same work as men do is not the law of the land.

    The men failed to qualify for both the Olympics and the World Cup finals. So they generated "zero" revenue compared to the women this cycle. Court cases are supposed to be decided on facts, not fantasies. 

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