After a yearslong fight for equal pay, U.S. Soccer and the women’s and men’s national teams have announced a historic collective bargaining agreement to close the gender pay gap and assure every player, man or woman, is paid equally.
The U.S. Women's National Team has dominated the soccer world, winning four FIFA Women's World Cup titles since the competition's founding in 1991, all while fighting for equitable pay. At the 2019 World Cup in France, chants of "Equal Pay!" reverberated in the stands in support.
The collective bargaining agreement between U.S. Soccer and the men’s and women’s national team unions is the final step in cementing the new policy of equal pay.
“I am feeling extreme pride,” U.S. Women’s National Team defender Becky Sauerbrunn said Wednesday on NBC's "TODAY" show. "To be able to say finally, equal pay for equal work feels very, very good,” she said.
Under the terms, World Cup Prize money will be pooled between the men's and women’s teams and split equally among all players — a first in the soccer federation world.
That’s a major victory as the men’s World Cup winner in 2018, France, raked in $38 million, while the U.S. women’s team only took home $4 million for their win in 2019.
The men's and women's teams will also share equally any money U.S. Soccer makes commercially and at events, under the terms.
“There’s equalization of World Cup prize money, identical financial terms, including identical game payments, identical revenue sharing for both teams, so identical in every aspect on that front,” U.S. Soccer President Cindy Parlow Cone said on the terms.
It comes after star athletes including Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan reached a $24 million settlement with U.S. Soccer in February following a lawsuit over unequal pay with men’s team players. That settlement was contingent upon the bargaining agreement.
For the women's team, the announcement is a long time coming.
An EEOC complaint was filed in 2016 by Morgan, Rapinoe, Sauerbrunn, Hope Solo and Carli Lloyd (Solo and Lloyd are retired), followed by a lawsuit filed by 28 members of the USWNT in March 2019, citing years of ongoing institutionalized gender discrimination against the players in their compensation and working conditions.
"U.S. Soccer couldn’t do this alone, and we couldn’t do it," Cone said, noting that the men's players and Men's Players Association was collaborative in the effort.
"I think this is going to have international ramifications in sport in general and hopefully into the business world," she added.
While the U.S. women’s team has grown into a global sensation, taking along with them a series of impressive medals, the men’s team has struggled to bring home World Cup glory. The men’s national team last placed in the tournament in 1930 in third place.
U.S. Soccer said in a statement the agreement runs through 2028 and “will ensure that U.S. Soccer’s Senior National Team players remain among the highest paid in the world.”