USWNT and USMNT Reach Agreement on Equal Pay in New Collective Bargaining Agreements

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The U.S. men’s and women’s national soccer teams have reached a working agreement that closes the controversial pay gap between the teams, an unprecedented step that will equalize both salaries and bonuses, delivering a substantial boost to the decorated women’s team.

The deal was part of new labor agreements with the United States Soccer Federation that were announced Wednesday morning. It was the culmination of a long battle between the women’s team and the sport’s national governing body, which included a high-profile lawsuit that was settled this year.

The USSF said the agreement makes the United States the first country to achieve equal pay for its men’s and women’s soccer teams.

“To finally get to the point where every economic term is equal pay, I’m really, really proud,” said USSF President Cindy Parlow Cone.

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The CBA news will match World Cup bonuses, something Parlow Cone said no other nation has done. American teams will pool World Cup bonuses received from FIFA and share them equally, leveling a noticeably uneven playing field established by the world soccer body.

“It’s going to be a game-changer for what women’s football looks like in general,” said Women’s National Team striker Margaret Purce. “It’s historic, and I think it’s going to spark a lot of other things in the sport, not just in the United States but around the world.”

Until now, American men had earned much larger World Cup bonuses than four-time women champions, even in years when the men didn’t make it out of the tournament’s group stage. FIFA pays much larger sums to the men’s teams, citing the fact that the men’s tournament generates much more revenue.

FIFA will continue to pay federations more for their participation in the men’s tournament than in the women’s tournament. But under the new CBAs, the federation will no longer pass on tournament-specific bonuses to each team.

By accepting the CBA, the American men are making a substantial concession: they will potentially earn less World Cup bonus money than they previously would have, especially if they advance deep in the tournament. Women will likely receive much higher premiums.

“The immediate reaction was, ‘Wait, are we going to give up what we already have?’ National Men’s Team defenseman Walker Zimmerman, a member of the players’ association leadership group, said of the new deal. “I completely understand the immediate frustrations. But to get to where we are, I think everybody’s really proud to make this deal and to be the first to do it. [in the world].”

A timeline of the equal pay dispute between the United States women’s soccer team and US Soccer

The USSF, which had come under significant public and legal pressure, had said it would not accept a deal with the men that did not equalize World Cup bonuses.

The winner of the upcoming Men’s World Cup in Qatar will receive $42 million of the $440 FIFA prize money. If they advance to the Round of 16, the US men’s team will receive $13 million.

That’s more than three times what American women received for winning the tournament in 2019, when they took home $4 million out of $30 million in overall prize money. The winner’s share of next year’s women’s event in Australia and New Zealand has not been finalized, but the overall prize pool on offer is $60 million, a fraction of the men’s total.

In 2019, Australia’s men’s and women’s teams agreed to equal pay and working structures, but not when it came to World Cup bonuses. Under the Australian deal, the teams take home the same percentage of the bounty, but the men can take home significantly more money due to unequal payments from FIFA. Norway has also made substantial gains in wage balancing.

“We should collectively push FIFA to equalize working conditions and bonuses for both World Cups,” Purce said. “It’s amazing what the men have done; it’s appreciated. But we should push FIFA.

Extract from the archives: After a victory in the World Cup like no other, a song rings out for the Americans: “Equal pay!

Along with World Cup money, the deals will end guaranteed salaries for female players and pay them the same rates as men for achievements such as roster selection and team performances. The men did not receive pay from the USSF, a problem that complicated the women’s argument for equal pay.

For similar tournaments other than the World Cup, players from both teams will also win equal amounts of total prize money. Teams will also equally share a portion of USSF broadcast, partnership, and sponsorship revenue and receive a share of revenue from tickets sold at USSF-hosted home games. Both teams will receive bonuses for sold out matches.

CBAs also guarantee equal playing venues, staff, charter flights, and hotel accommodations.

The settlements come three months after American Women reached a $24 million settlement with the USSF, ending a six-year sex discrimination case that has resonated in American sports and beyond.

The settlement was actually an admission that the USSF had not paid the women’s team the same. The women had claimed more than $66 million in back pay, but suffered a major setback in 2020, when a district judge ruled they had agreed to a different pay structure than the men’s team. and had, in fact, earned more money than the men.

The USSF argued that paying the same bonuses to women for winning the World Cup that they promised men would bankrupt the Chicago-based nonprofit. But the women said the federation was obliged to pay them equally, regardless of FIFA’s bonus structure.

A year ago in France, the United States Women’s National Team began its march to a second straight World Cup title. In the players’ own words, here’s how they triumphed. (Video: Sarah Hashemi, Thomas LeGro/The Washington Post)

“The collaboration was really amazing,” Parlow Cone, a former star player, said of the negotiations. “There were tough conversations and tough times and, yeah, there were times when I thought it was all going to fall apart. But I’m really proud of where we landed, proud of the men’s team for what they have done, proud of the players who continue to carry the torch for all women.

The men played under the terms of a CBA which expired in December 2018. The women’s CBA expired this spring.

Zimmerman said he believes the deal will create a bond between the teams, which have largely operated independently of each other for decades.

“We are so hard on them; they root so strongly for us,” he said. “It hasn’t been like that in the past. We are delighted with the partnership. It really feels like a sense of unity, which will also translate off the pitch into camaraderie and pure passion for the game and the growth of the sport here.

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