The US Women’s National Team’s longtime battle with the US Soccer Federation finally ended on Wednesday. US Soccer announced that the USWNT and USMNT agreed to separate collective bargaining agreements that achieve equal pay for both teams, including the long contentious FIFA World Cup prize money. The agreements are set to run through 2028.
The signing of the new CBA brings to end the storied battle that had 57,000 fans fervently chanting “Equal Pay” in unison across the globe in France. Sports are a microcosm of society and the USWNT’s battle felt like a fight for women everywhere, across every industry.
Now, as people celebrate this historical moment, is the CBA as good as it seems? Let’s dive in…
1. FIFA World Cup Prize Money
This was a major sticking point throughout the USWNT’s Equal Pay lawsuit. US Soccer argued that it did not control the money and, therefore, could not guarantee equality between how much money FIFA gives to men’s and women’s national teams. The USWNT responded that money from FIFA was paid to US Soccer for the men’s and women’s tournament and it was well within US Soccer’s control to pool the money and split it equally.
An equal split, however, would mean the USMNT would have to take a cut from the World Cup money they were used to receiving for just playing. That is exactly what happened. Starting in 2022, all FIFA World Cup prize money will be put into one pot and split 50/50. That split could see the two teams share $20 million or more as soon as next year, in addition to match payments that are expected to average $450,000 a year. To say this is a very good thing is an understatement.
2. Appearance Fees and Game Bonuses
The USWNT and USMNT will now have identical performance-based bonuses for ALL games and competitions. Prior to the new CBA, the USWNT had guaranteed salaries and lower bonuses while the USMNT had no salary and a higher bonus structure. This was originally put in place due to the high base salaries existing across men’s professional soccer leagues.
With the growing stability of the NWSL and other guarantees for quality of life and play in the new CBA, the USWNT players can equally earn the same from US Soccer as the USMNT.
3. Revenue Share
For the first time ever, US Soccer and the USMNT and USWNT will share a portion of broadcast, apparel, and sponsorship revenue with an equal 50/50 split between the men and women for the players’ portion.
One of the issues with the USWNT’s Equal Pay lawsuit was that US Soccer did not actively delineate what team brought in which sponsor and for what amount. The USWNT argued that since they won two back-to-back World Cups and the men did not even qualify for the 2018 tournament, many of US Soccer’s sponsors were involved because of the USWNT brand. This will no longer be an issue with the commercial revenue share.
Now back to the original question, is the new USWNT CBA as good as it seems?
The new CBA is what should have always been. The fact that it took so long to get to it is a true travesty. That does not negate, however, the hard work of so many players and staff that brought equality to life.
This agreement is a message from the USWNT that piecemeal progress is no longer an option. The entire meal, dessert included, is on the table and it should have always been available. In the words of USWNT member Midge Purce, ”my dad always told me, ‘You don’t get a reward for doing what you’re supposed to do.’ And paying men and women equally is what you’re supposed to do.”