Equal pay, at last, for both USMNT and USWNT players: 'Truly historic moment'

U.S. Soccer reached an agreement with the player associations of its two senior national teams on new collective bargaining agreements.

The new collective bargaining agreements achieve labor peace for the federation. But most important, an historic equalization of World Cup prize money that makes the pay truly equal.

For the first time, U.S. Soccer will pool portions of the prize money it receives from FIFA — the money goes to the federations, not players, and federations are free to do what they want with the money — and the prize money will be split equally between the players on the two national  teams.

The prize money is on top of appearance fees and game bonuses players receive from U.S. Soccer for participation in the World Cup, as well as at other tournaments and in friendly matches.

The disparity in World Cup prize money has been at the center of the legal dispute between members of the U.S. women's national team and the federation. In 2018, FIFA paid the French federation $38 million for the Bleus' World Cup championship. A year later, U.S. Soccer received $4 million from FIFA for the women's national team's second straight world title.

Some federations have equalized the terms by which they pay their women's national team programs for everything but event prize money. What passed for equality was an agreement to pay the same percentage of vastly different pools of prize money.

FIFA will increase the total prize money for the next World Cups -- from $400 million to $440 million for Qatar 2022 and from $30 million to $60 million, according FIFA president Gianni Infantino, for the 2023 Women's World Cup, which will be expanded from 24 to 32 teams and played in Australia and New Zealand.

The USWNT players argued that they should receive the same prize money the men would have received for the same success in the World Cup. To make up the discrepancy in World Cup payments would “likely bankrupt” the federation, U.S. president Cindy Parlow Cone said in 2021.

USMNT players to agree to share their prize money. To reach an agreement that would not have put the federation in financial peril required USMNT players to agree to share their prize money with the women. The federation will pool the prize money -- 90% paid for the teams’ participation in the 2022 and 2023 World Cups and 80% for the 2026 and 2027 World Cups -- and give it in equal percentages to players on the two teams. (Both CBAs run through 2028.)

"This is a truly historic moment," said Cone. "These agreements have changed the game forever here in the United States and have the potential to change the game around the world."

U.S. Soccer settled its equal pay dispute with members of the women's national team in February, agreeing to pay the members of the class-action suit $22 million plus $2 million placed into a fund to support the players in their post-career goals and charitable efforts (the members have their own legal fees and costs to pay). The settlement came weeks before a federal appeals court was to hear the appeal from the women, whose case had been dismissed by a district court judge in 2020. That settlement was made contingent on a new collective bargaining agreement between U.S. Soccer and the men's players association (USWNTPA). The federation insisted any agreement was contingent on equalization of pay with the men and women, which required an agreement with the men's players association (USNSTPA).

As a practical matter, an agreement on prize money couldn't take place until the USA was assured of qualifying for the 2022 World Cup, which happened on March 30, the final day of the Concacaf qualifying tournament.

Revenue-sharing adds to player compensation. The agreement no longer guarantees salaries for women's national teams players or pays their NWSL salaries. But it includes for the first time a revenue-sharing agreement. The federation will share a portion of its broadcast and sponsorship revenue divided equally between USWNT and USMNT players. The same will go for ticket revenues for national team games for which U.S. Soccer controls the gate with bonuses for sellouts.

The new CBAs will boost the payouts national team players receive considerably. The New York Times reported that players were told they can expect to collect average annual payouts of about $450,000 and potentially more than double that in successful World Cup years.

In 2020, the highest-paid national team player, according to U.S. Soccer's tax filings, was Alyssa Naeher, who received $255,783. In 2019, when the USA won the Women's World Cup in France, the highest-paid player was Julie Ertz, who earned $473,120. In 2014, the last time the men went to the World Cup, the highest-paid player was Clint Dempsey, who was paid $428,002.

Equality in working conditions. The new collective bargaining agreements assure that both teams play at comparable match venues, train at comparable facilities, stay at comparable hotel accommodations and receive comparable support and staffing in terms of quality and cost. These were the subject of the women's federal lawsuit and settled earlier in the litigation process, which began before the EEOC in 2016 and in federal court in 2019.

The USWNT's agreement also provides for additional benefits for such things as parental leave (pregnancy or the care of a newborn/newly adopted child to a maximum of six months) and a short-term disability. For the first time, men as well as the women will be eligible to receive child-care during national team events.

Photo: Howard Smith/ISI Photos

12 comments about "Equal pay, at last, for both USMNT and USWNT players: 'Truly historic moment'".
  1. Santiago 1314, May 18, 2022 at 9:36 p.m.

    So, the Men "Gave Up" WC22 money {38+ Million}( that they were Probably Never going to Win) for a Chance at The Almost "Sure Thing" of USA Women winning WC23 {4+ million}... How much did "Worst" WC18 team get Paid.??? ... I "Bet" that the WC23 Prize Money will be Increased under Pressure from "Equal Pay" Supporters... Which means the Men will get Equal % of Women's Prize Money of 38+ Million... Smart Move by the Dudes.!!!

  2. Santiago 1314, May 18, 2022 at 10:21 p.m.

    CPC says there are 2 separate Contracts.??? ... WHY.!?!?!? ... "Seperate, But Equal"(Words that Live in Infamy)...When is Equal, Not EQUAL??? ... Should be interesting to see what the Differences are....

  3. cheese Pony, May 19, 2022 at 8:49 a.m.

    My question is related to recruiting dual national players, particularly our battle w Mexico for players who are basically born and raised Americans.  Under the new deal, which federation pays players more, Mexico or USA?  Recruiting is a major component of roster building, hope we haven't destroyed ourselves.

  4. R2 Dad replied, May 19, 2022 at 9:40 a.m.

    Doesn't matter. El Tri just cap-ties Americans then forgets. Remember Jonathan Gonzalez? From wiki: "He was blocked by his club Monterrey from joining the Mexico under-20 team for the 2019 U-20 World Cup.[16]"

  5. Wayne Norris, May 19, 2022 at 9:09 a.m.

    Good to get past all of this.

    if the USWNT was willing to do this early on as opposed to demand $38M WC delta this could have been resolved much sooner and save US Soccer $$ millions in legal fees.

    Seems like rank and file for Rapinoe out of way so they could have reasonable negotiations!

  6. M Polo, May 19, 2022 at 10:13 a.m.

    The fact is the womens team agreed to a contract previously that had more guarantees and less at risk. They have since determined that they can negotiate a better deal. Their recent court settlement does NOT get paid out until a new contract is signed ($22m). Secondly whether you like it or not GLOBALLY mens soccer generates more revenue (2022 WC $8B) which results in more mens prize money $450m with $45m going to the winner. In contrast the 2019 womens 2019 WC winner received $4m where as the mens team is awarded $10.5m just for qualifying for this year's WC. Effectively what has transpiring is both teams are throwing their winnings into the pot and taking out equal shares despite not generating the same amount of revenue.  The womens team is effectively contributing 31% of the revenue and taking out 50% (assuming USWNT $4.5m and USMNT $10.5m).  As US Soccer Cindy Parlow Cone said "I think our men should be celebrated and congratulated. I think we are all very thankful for them coming to the table and making this historic deal happen."  The fact remains that like most federations the US Soccer organization takes a disproportionate amount of the money. Compared to the NFL or NBA US Soccer is giving a very small percentage of earnings to the players that generate it. 

  7. John Polis, May 19, 2022 at 2:48 p.m.

    It appears, as I read this, that the women "gave up" their salaries that have been paid by the federation for man years. Plus the federation won't be paying their NWSL salaries either. That was a sticking point that was rarely discussed. The general public was not aware that the federation paid the salaries of the women's players, including benefits etc. If equality is what everyone is after, then women players should earn their living somewhere other than the federation, which means negotiating individual salaries plus benefits with teams as professional players. The men have always gotten their salary and benefits from their teams, which doesn't change. If the women are now required to get their own salaries and benefits, then it is truly equitable.

  8. Santiago 1314 replied, May 20, 2022 at 9:55 p.m.

    Not "Always" John... You remember TEAM AMERICA, right.???

  9. Bob Ashpole, May 19, 2022 at 4:57 p.m.

    It is over. Let's get past this.

  10. Wayne Norris replied, May 20, 2022 at 11:03 a.m.

    Bob, surely you shortest comment and probably the best!!

    Let's move on!!

  11. Greedy Striker, May 20, 2022 at 10:44 a.m.

    I wonder what Sweden, Germany, Brazil, England etc. pay their women's players? The market dictates the $ but not in woke America! Ultimately, this is just further hampering the men's program in the long run! 

  12. John Foust, May 20, 2022 at 11 a.m.

    Have to chuckle at this whole issue in light of the apparent inability of a growing body of people who can't (won't) define what a woman is ... if we want true equality, why not cancel all gender/sex divisions and let the best persons blindly compete on soccer merit ... or is that it's own issue?

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