‘Historic’ equal pay deal for US men and women soccer teams


US womens team captain Megan Rapinoe (left) celebrates winning bronze at the Tokyo Olympics. — AFP
US women’s team captain Megan Rapinoe (left) celebrates winning bronze at the Tokyo Olympics. — AFP

WASHINGTON: The US men’s and women’s national soccer teams will receive equal pay under a “historic” agreement announced by the US Soccer Federation on Wednesday, following years of pressure from female players.

The move makes the federation the first in the world to equalize World Cup prize money awarded to its men’s and women’s teams.

“This is a truly historic moment. These agreements have changed the game forever here in the United States and have the potential to change the game around the world,” said US Soccer president Cindy Parlow Cone.

The terms of Wednesday’s landmark agreement include “identical compensation for all competitions, including the FIFA World Cup, and the introduction of the same commercial revenue sharing mechanism for both teams,” USSF said.

The deal stipulates that players from both teams “pool and share” the otherwise unequal prize money paid by FIFA for participation in their respective World Cups.

Equalizing World Cup pay had been a major stumbling block given the huge discrepancy in FIFA’s payouts for the men’s and women’s events.

“The accomplishments in this CBA (collective bargaining agreement) are a testament to the incredible efforts of WNT players on and off the field,” said US women’s captain Becky Sauerbrunn, president of the women’s players’ association.

She added that she hoped the agreement “will similarly serve as the foundation for the continued growth of women’s soccer both in the United States and abroad.”

‘They said it was not possible’

The US men received $5.375 million from FIFA for reaching the round of 16 at the 2014 World Cup — the last they played in — while the women received $1.725 million for winning the 2015 tournament.

FIFA awarded France $38 million for winning the 2018 men’s World Cup but only $4 million to the United States for their 2019 Women’s World Cup triumph.

For non-World Cup tournaments, US players from “both teams will earn an equal amount of the total prize money paid when both teams participate in the same competition.”

In February, the US national women’s team won a $24 million payout and a promise of equal pay in a major settlement with US Soccer, that was contingent on the new collective bargaining agreement.

The question of World Cup prize money had formed a prominent part of the lawsuit, which was filed in 2019 and accused the federation of “stubbornly refusing” to pay its men and women’s players equally.

The agreement, which runs through 2028, also aims to improve “player health and safety, data privacy and the need to balance responsibilities to both club and country,” USSF said.

Women’s star Megan Rapinoe, who has forged a reputation as an unflinching advocate for social justice causes including equal pay and conditions for her and her team-mates, said in February that the settlement marked a moment in which “US Soccer changed for the better.”

Center-back Walker Zimmerman, a member of the men’s team players association, welcomed Wednesday’s deal saying that “we hope this will awaken others to the need for this type of change.”

“They said equal pay for men and women was not possible, but that did not stop us and we went ahead and achieved it,” he added.

The United States women have won four Women’s World Cup titles and four Olympic gold medals. They are chasing an unprecedented third consecutive Women’s World Cup crown after hoisting trophies in 2015 at Canada and 2019 in France. They last won Olympic gold in London in 2012.


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