Monday, October 2, 2023

Explainer: US soccer’s equal pay game and what that means

The US Soccer Federation has agreed to pay its men’s and women’s national teams equally in a historic move that took years to build.

Collective bargaining agreements announced on Wednesday include an equal pay structure and equitable distribution of World Cup prize money, something that was a major sticking point.

The men’s CBA ended in December 2018 and the women’s contract at the end of March, but talks continued after federation and the women’s team agreed to settle gender discrimination lawsuits brought by some players in 2019. The settlement was contingent upon the arrival of the federation. An agreement between the two teams to equalize the salary and bonus.

Those deals, which run through 2028, are likely to have far-reaching implications for years to come.

How did we get here?

In 2016, a group of five players – Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, Becky Sauerbrunn, Hope Solo and Carli Lloyd – filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, claiming pay discrimination by the federation.

The players were sued in federal court in 2019 following the filing. After years of filings and hearings, the sides reached a settlement in February, with the USSF agreeing to pay players $24 million – $22 million and $2 million to set up a fund to benefit players after their careers. expressed. The deal was contingent on reaching a new CBA.

But the fight goes back to 1995, when a group of high-profile players, including Mia Haim, Michelle Akers and Christine Lilly, were kicked out of a pre-Olympic training camp by the USSF over a disagreement over bonus pay. The federation offered bonuses only for gold medals, with women seeking incremental pay for other medals. Men were given a bonus per win.

The dispute was quickly resolved, but it was the first of many actions – some subtle, others not so – that the women’s team took years to secure equal pay and treatment.

where do we go from here?

One of the biggest components of the CBA is the equitable distribution of World Cup prize money. There are many moving parts, but the money earned by both teams in football’s most prestigious tournament will be carried forward, and then divided between the players, with US Soccer top 10% in 2022–23 and 20% in 2026– 27.

The men’s team has already qualified for this year’s World Cup in Qatar. The women’s team will take part in the CONCACAF W Championship in Monterrey, Mexico this summer, which will set four berths at the 2023 Women’s World Cup hosted by Australia and New Zealand.

National federations earn prize money during the World Cup based on how far they progress in the tournament. The American women have won their last two World Cups, while the men did not qualify for the 2018 tournament in Russia.

FIFA earmarked $400 million for the 2018 men’s tournament, including $38 million for champions France, and $30 million for the 2019 women’s tournament, including $4 million for champions United States. FIFA has raised a total of $440 million for the 2022 Men’s World Cup, with the winner receiving $42 million. FIFA President Gianni Infantino has proposed doubling the women’s prize money for the 2023 Women’s World Cup to $60 million, with FIFA increasing the teams from 24 to 32.

Profit and Loss

If the top-ranked US women’s team continues to dominate the World Cup, players on the men’s team will receive a portion of that prize money. Men’s qualification to Qatar ensures that women will benefit as well.

US Soccer receives $10.5 million from FIFA to qualify for the Men’s World Cup in Qatar: a minimum of $9 million in prize money and $1.5 million for preparation. In contrast, US Soccer received only $4 million to win the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France and $480,000 to prepare.

Under the new agreement, women gave up guaranteed wages. Beginning in 2005, women included a basic salary in their CBA, while men’s contracts were based on a pay-for-play model, with earnings for appearances, wins and draws. The players of the women’s national team will be compensated in the same way as the men going forward.

The men receive child care during all training camps and matches, which the women’s team has had for 25 years.

Players on both teams receive individual retirement funds and will share commercial revenue from tickets for matches for teams controlled by the USSF, with bonuses for sales. Each team will also receive a share of broadcast, participant and sponsor revenue.

What does this mean for the rest of the world

American women’s fight for equal pay has already spread around the world. And it is likely that other nations will follow suit.

But the main difference is that no other federation has agreed to split the FIFA prize money, which is seen as one of the biggest obstacles to true equality.

In 2017, Norway committed to paying comparable salaries to its men’s and women’s national teams. The move came after star player Ada Hegerberg was dropped from the team due to inappropriate behavior. The first female Ballon d’Or winner recently joined Norway.

The Dutch Federation agreed in 2019 to raise the compensation for the women’s team to the same level as the men’s by 2023. Later that year, the women of Australia won equal pay and equal benefits to players in the men’s team, as well as splitting revenue.

National federations in New Zealand, Brazil and England have also taken steps to achieve wage equity.

“Things don’t move as fast as we want them to go,” said USSF President Cindy Parlow Coen. “But I think the next step for other federations around the world is to look at what we’ve done and start doing it ourselves, and then encourage the federations and then FIFA to equalize all the prize money.” is.”


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