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Both the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team (USWNT), through the U.S. Women’s National Team Players Association, and the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team (USMNT), through the U.S. National Soccer Team Players Association, have reached agreements with the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) on new collective bargaining agreements (CBA). Importantly, the CBAs accomplish what prior CBAs have not—an equal split of FIFA prize money.
Prior CBAs – Disparity in Pay Rate
The USMNT’s CBA expired in 2018 (although the USMNT has continued to operate under the expired CBA), and the USWNT’s CBA expired on March 31, 2022. For over a year, the teams and the USSF have been negotiating over new CBAs, with the sticking point being how to equally split FIFA prize money.
After the USWNT’s 2019 World Cup victory, “Equal Pay!” chants rang throughout the stadium. In 2018, FIFA awarded $400 million in prize money for the 32 teams at the 2018 Men’s World Cup, compared to awarding $30 million to the 24 teams at the 2019 Women’s World Cup, including the $4 million awarded to the USWNT.
Not only was FIFA prize money unevenly distributed, but the teams operated under different pay structures. Specifically, the USWNT mainly operated under a year-round salary structure, with players earning $100,000 per year. Non-salary players (players called up to the team throughout the year) earned between $3,250 and $4,500 per game. On the other hand, players for the USMNT were non-salary, earning $5,000 per game played.
New Structure – Equal Pay Rate
Now, the players associations will receive 90% of the FIFA bonuses paid at the 2022 and 2023 World Cups and 80% of the bonuses at the 2026 and 2027 World Cups. In turn, the national teams will receive an even split. FIFA previously announced that the bonus pool for the 2022 men’s World Cup in Qatar is $400 million, and the bonus pool for the 2023 women’s World Cup in Australia is $60 million.
In addition, the USWNT’s new CBA changes the pay structure. Now, the USWNT will join the USMNT with a non-salary model. For USSF-controlled games against opponents ranked in the top 25 of FIFA rankings, players will receive between $8,000 and $18,000, depending on whether the game is a win, loss, or draw. For all other games, the players will receive between $8,000 and $13,000. For World Cup matches, each player automatically earns $10,000 per game, plus $14,000 for a win or $10,000 for a tie.
As a result of the new structure, the average annual payout for men’s and women’s players is expected to be $450,000. Other gains for USWNT include parental leave and child care.
Further, the USWNT’s CBA will also finalize the settlement of the USWNT’s class-action lawsuit against the USSF, which was contingent on the USWNT ratifying a new CBA. As a part of the settlement, the USSF agreed to pay out $24 million to the class of players and an additional $2 million for the benefit of USWNT players in their post-career pursuits.
A New Future
With an equal pay rate, the United States carves a new future for its national teams. While previous countries have either committed or achieved equal pay exclusive of FIFA prize money, including England, Australia, Brazil, Norway, New Zealand, and Sierra Leone, the United States appears to be the first country to achieve equal pay that includes FIFA prize money. Other countries may take a similar approach in the future.