CARSON, CA - FEBRUARY 17: Kelley O'Hara #5 of the United States has a few happy words with team mate Trinity Rodman #2 after a game between Czech Republic and USWNT at Dignity Health Sports Park on February 17, 2022 in Carson, California. (Photo by Robert Mora/ISI Photos/Getty Images)
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U.S. Soccer Federation Takes Initiative In Push For Equality

From now on, the United States Women’s National Soccer Team (USWNT) will earn exactly the same as their male counterparts in a landmark decision by the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF).

The move is being heralded as a landmark moment in the quest for equality within sports for women when compared to their male counterparts.

It has taken three years, since the USWNT first filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the USSF back in March 2019, to get to the decision today.

The decision is being seen as a triumph for the USWNT and its president, Portland Thorns FC player Becky Sauerbrunn, who has long been at the forefront of the campaign.

And she was quick to herald the importance of the new collective bargaining agreement the USSF agreed to.

“Historic Achievements”

In a statement after the announcement of the new CBA being agreed, Sauerbrunn commented:

“The accomplishments in this CBA are a testament to the incredible efforts of WNT Players on and off the field.”

“We hope that this Agreement and its historic achievements is not only providing for equal pay but also in improving the training and playing environment for national team players will similarly serve as the foundation for continued growth of women’s soccer both in the United States and abroad.”

What is particularly eye-catching about the new agreement is just how clear and all-encompassing it is.

Furthermore, it should also be noted that the US Men’s team were in full agreement with what was on offer in this landmark deal.

In support, Nashville FC and USMNT centre back Walker Zimmerman, a member of the US National Soccer Team’s Players Association, commented:

“They said #equalpay for men and women was not possible, but that did not stop us and we went ahead and achieved it.”

Details of the Agreement

A Tweet under the title of Equal Pay For Equal Work revealed some of the key highlights of the deal which include:

  • Equal pay for men and women per day spent in camp
  • Equal pay for each game played
  • Equal pay per outcome of each game per competition type
  • Equal number of players to be funded on rosters
  • Equal tiering for friendly matches
  • World Cup prize money earned by the USWNT and USMNT will be pooled and split between the players of both teams equally.
  • Equal 50/50 split of commercial revenue
  • Equal rate paid per ticket sold for each team’s games controlled by the USSF.

Further details of the agreement are still to be made clear, but they will include ensuring that all players have equal rights concerning other non-soccer related issues, such as childcare, parental leave, travel, equality of venues and playing surfaces, as well as ensuring equal access to services for their physical and mental health.

Importance Of World Cup Prize Money Sharing

There are many fundamental aspects of this agreement which are groundbreaking, but

CARSON, CA – FEBRUARY 17: Kelley O’Hara #5 poses with Becky Sauerbrunn #4 of the United States after a game between Czech Republic and USWNT at Dignity Health Sports Park on February 17, 2022 in Carson, California. (Photo by Brad Smith/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

perhaps the most unusual and impressive is the fact that World Cup prize money will be pooled and split between the two teams.

There have been several facetious comments made on Twitter stating that it will be the women’s team that face an effective pay cut here, as they tend to do well in World Cup competitions (they’ve won the last two tournaments and have won the competition a record four times in total), compared to the men who have never got beyond a World Cup Semi Finals and who have often struggled to qualify for the Finals tournament.

That is completely incorrect and we’ll explore why below, but this also explains why this part of the deal is so important for women.

At the last FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2019, the total prize money was $30 million and the USWNT received the maximum of $4 million for winning the tournament.

The USMNT will receive $2.5m guaranteed for simply qualifying for the 2022 World Cup Finals in Qatar and the minimum that they will earn on top of that, if they were to be eliminated at the Group Stage, is another $8 million.

That means simply for turning up in Qatar, the USMNT will earn at least 2.5x more than the women’s team did for winning their World Cup in 2019.

However, if the USMNT are eliminated in the Round of 16, they will receive a further $12 million on top of their $2.5 million qualification prize. If they manage to reach the quarterfinals before they are eliminated, that increases to $16 million.

Should they win the tournament, then they will receive $45 million, plus the $2.5 million qualification fee, almost 12 times more than the women received for winning the 2019 tournament.

FIFA has indicated that prize money for the 2023 FIFA World Cup in Australia will be doubled to $60m in total, but this is still just 13% of what FIFA will award the men’s teams this year.

Without The Agreement How Do The Figures Look?

Without the new CBA, this means that the USWNT would have earned $4m from their 2019 World Cup victory. A 23-woman squad means that each woman would take home around $174,000.

The men, on the other hand, even if they went home at the group stage of the tournament would have earned $10.5 million from their efforts. Which equates to around $465,000 each for a 23-man squad.

Under the new deal, the prize pools would be combined and each of the 46 players allocated the same share of the total prize money, which is $315,217 each or thereabouts.

And remember, the women got that because they won the tournament 2019, the men get the same amount even though, in this example, they were eliminated in the Group Stages.

Hugely Important

Tennis may have taken the initiative in the drive for equality in sports, but make no mistake, this is a landmark moment in female sports led by the USSF.

It is one that I feel many countries around the world, especially those with a growing soccer pedigree in both the men’s and women’s game, will certainly agitate to follow.

The USSF may have been late to the party when it came to embracing soccer, but they are showing a lot more foresight than other countries with this latest agreement and it is to their credit and both the women’s and men’s teams efforts, that this far more equitable solution has been found.

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