US Soccer Makes Landmark Deal to Pay Men’s and Women’s National Teams Equally

US Soccer Makes Landmark Deal to Pay Men’s and Women’s National Teams Equally

After a group of top women’s players sued U.S. Soccer for gender discrimination in 2019, US Soccer has announced that they will have new contracts that will pay both women’s and men’s teams equally. This landmark decision will also include splitting World Cup prize money. 

These collective bargaining agreements were made after a decades-long fight by the U.S Women’s National Team (USWNT) for equal pay and fair treatment. 

The women’s national team has been recognized as U.S. Soccer’s most successful team, winning 4 Olympic gold medals and more World Cups than any other country. Contentions over the gender pay gap grew after the women’s consecutive World Cup championships in 2015 and 2019, while the men’s team failed to qualify for the 2018 tournament. 

In 2019, top women’s players sued U.S. Soccer for inequalities in treatment and pay, and won the lawsuit. U.S. Soccer agreed to pay $24 million to settle once a new Collective Bargaining Agreement was made.

As part of the latest bargaining deal, the USWNT will get $7.2 million in this year’s pool and includes a 68 percent increase to $120,000 for what players can earn in this summer’s World Cup qualifying tournament. These agreements run through 2028 and covers two World Cup cycles. 

Unlike the vast disparities in past distributions of FIFA’s prize money, under the new deals, U.S. Soccer will put 90 percent of the prize money from both the men’s and women’s World Cups into a pool for players to split. This is a groundbreaking move for U.S. Soccer as no other federation has gone as far as splitting World Cup prize money. 

Also included under the deals:

1/ U.S. Soccer will share commercial revenues with the players; 

2/ Both Men’s and Women’s games will be played on similar surfaces (grass or turf);

3/ Travel budgets will be comparable and both teams will have equal number of charter flights;

4/ U.S. Soccer agreed to establish protections to prevent harassment and other misconduct such as ability to anonymously report abuse.  More than a half-dozen players accused U.S. Soccer of willful inaction following abuse by coaches;

5/ Expanding parental benefits like childcare to not only USWNT but also for USMNT.

Now that new collective bargaining agreements have been made, the 2019 settlement can be finalized. With the decades long fight now settled, all that is left for the USWNT is to focus on the World Cup!

In many places, including under California law, paying less to one gender for the same work is illegal.  The movement towards gender pay equity is here to stay.  But, for the most part, men and women’s professional sports have not been considered equal.  Think NBA vs. WNBA.  Do you think this precedent will change pay practices in other women’s professional sports?

Learn More About Gender Discrimination / Wage and Hour Law

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