For the first time, soccer players representing the United States men’s and women’s national teams will receive equal pay and prize money under historic agreements with the US Soccer Federation, including the World Cup, that have sparked years of litigation and bitter public disputes. will end. constitutes “equal pay”.
The revised pay structures are part of collective bargaining agreements with each team announced Wednesday, three months after a group of players from the top women’s team settled a gender discrimination lawsuit against US Soccer and six months before the men’s team took the field at the Worlds. Is gonna. Cup in Qatar.
In addition to guaranteeing equal pay for men’s and women’s players to participate in international matches, the deals include a provision, believed to be the first of its kind, through which teams will pool unequal payments received from FIFA, The governing body for participation in the World Cup is the governing body of world football. Starting with the 2022 men’s tournament and the 2023 women’s World Cup, that money will be shared equally between members of both teams.
“No other country has ever done this,” US Soccer president Cindy Parlow Coen said of the deal to equalize World Cup payments. “I think everyone should be really proud of what we’ve achieved here. It’s really, really historic.”
The split of the prize money is a notable concession by the American men, who were awarded the bulk of the multi-million-dollar payment they receive from FIFA each time the first team plays in a World Cup. The money-sharing agreement with the women had also long agreed by players and federation officials that equal pay was the biggest obstacle to the resolution of the debate. This represents a potentially steep drop for the women’s team, whose World Cup prize pool is a fraction of what the men’s teams pay every four years.
Under the new deals, which run until 2028 and cover the next four World Cups, dozens of top men’s and women’s players have been told in internal submissions reviewed by The New York Times that they will earn an average annual income of about $450,000 from the US. Can expect to collect payment. Football – and potentially more than double that in the successful years of the World Cup.
“I feel so proud that there are going to be girls who are going to grow up and see what we’ve accomplished and recognize their worth instead of fighting to be seen for themselves,” said Midge Purse, a member said. Collective Bargaining Committee for the Women’s Players Association.
“But my dad always told me, ‘You don’t get rewarded for what you do,'” she said. “And paying men and women equally is what you should be doing.”
The difference in compensation for men and women has been one of the most controversial issues in football in recent years, especially after American women won consecutive World Cup championships in 2015 and 2019, and in qualifying for the men’s 2018 tournament. failed. Over the years, the women’s team, which includes some of the world’s most recognizable athletes, has grown and escalated their battles in court filings, news media interviews, and the grandest stages of their sport.
The dispute has always been a complex issue, with different contracts, unequal prize money and other financial quirks complicating the ability of national governing bodies such as US Soccer to resolve differences in pay and differences between men’s and women’s teams. .
Yet the union eventually committed to a fair system. To achieve this, US Soccer will distribute millions of additional dollars to its best players through a complex calculus of increased match bonuses, accrued prize money and new revenue-sharing agreements that will give each team tens of millions of dollars a piece in commercials. Will give The revenue that US Soccer receives each year from sponsors, broadcasters and other partners.
Labor peace will be costly: US soccer has committed single-game payments for most matches of $18,000 per player for games won, and as much as $24,000 per game for wins in some major tournaments – US men’s and women’s. Consolidating the position of two of the highest paid national teams in the world. and the federation will hand over 90 percent of the funds it receives from FIFA to the men and women of those teams to participate in the World Cup; Based on past performances and association estimates, that could result in a shared prize pool of over $20 million as of next year.
But despite its cost, the new equal pay policy has incalculable value for all involved, as it will end a six-year battle that tarnished the federation’s reputation; Threatening US Soccer’s ties with important sponsors; and raised millions of dollars in legal fees on each side of the fight.
As the parties fought in courts and negotiating sessions, the dispute sparked occasional caustic exchanges about personal privacy, workplace equality and basic fairness, and received support (and second guesses) from varying choruses. Presidential Candidate, Star athlete And Hollywood Celebrities – not all of them are supporters of the women’s campaign for pay equity.
By resolving the fight amicably rather than on court, it may be easier for the federation to attract new sponsors and rebuild ties with its most prominent players. And by giving teams a share of its commercial revenue, US Soccer has essentially encouraged its biggest stars to act as partners in finding new ways to grow those revenue streams.
When asked about the implications of the new contracts on US Soccer’s wider mission, Coen said, “There’s no denying that the money we owe our national teams is money that hasn’t been reinvested in the sport.” ” “And people can take that perspective. But the way I see it is that our job is to try to figure out how all three groups can work together so that everyone benefits.”
Timeline: US women’s national soccer team and equal pay
Cone and representatives of both teams said the agreements offered a model for those looking to restructure a multi-billion dollar sports industry in which generational gains meant money, risk and opportunity still remained in the hands of men. Sports and male athletes flow disproportionately.
“These agreements have forever changed the game here in America,” Con said. “And they have the potential to change the game around the world.”
Yet while a solution to the fight for equal pay will have tremendous symbolic and financial value in the United States, it is unclear whether the new deals will be more aspirational than those copied globally.
Since American women began to press for their equal pay fight in 2016, football federations from Norway to Australia have moved to pay their national teams equally. But all those deals sought to equalize matchday pay rates that are far below the figures US Soccer gives to its senior teams. And they all bypassed the biggest pay gap in football: the huge difference in World Cup bonuses awarded by FIFA to men and women. For example, at the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France, 24 teams competed for a $30 million prize pool; The 32 men’s teams competing in Qatar in November will split $450 million.
A settlement agreement became the only way forward for equal pay in 2020 after a federal judge dismissed the main claims of a group of top female players who sued the federation for gender discrimination. Coen, a former women’s national team player who had recently been elevated to the role of US Soccer’s volunteer president, welcomed the decision with an olive branch at the time, pushing for renewed negotiations. was inserted. But he stepped up pressure on men’s players to help bridge that gap when he said the US Soccer would not agree to new contracts with any team that did not match the World Cup prize money.
Walker Zimmermann, a defender for the men’s team and a leader in its players’ union, said he and his teammates had realized by then that “there was no other way to do this.” Persuading his teammates to ratify deals that ultimately “wasn’t always the easiest,” he admitted.
“You should try to voice what you believe is possible, what is right – these conversations are difficult,” Zimmerman said. “But in the end you have a bunch of players from both the men’s and women’s sides who came together and got it done.”
Despite Wednesday’s sentiment, payments to American men and women still won’t be completely equal: Injuries, coaching decisions and even the number of games played by each team affect individual players’ earnings. Will keep doing But for the first time, both the teams and the federation will be able to agree that the rate of pay will, at least, be the same.
“We still have two separate contracts,” Con said, “but financially everything is exactly the same.”
For most prominent U.S. female players, the deal could soon provide immediate paydays by unlocking a $24 million settlement, primarily for back pay, that they would use in February to settle a gender discrimination lawsuit against US Soccer. arrived with. US Soccer created lump-sum pay teams upon reaching new collective bargaining agreements that formalized equal pay between teams.
With new deals approved, US soccer can now get judge approval to start cutting checks.