For the first time, players representing the U.S. men’s and women’s teams will receive the same pay and prize money, including at World Cups, under a landmark agreement with the U.S. Football Association that will end years of litigation and bitter public disputes representing “equal pay.” .
The revised pay structures are part of a collective bargaining agreement announced Wednesday with each team, three months after a group of women’s leading players settled a lawsuit against U.S. football and six months before the men’s team is scheduled to play on the field worldwide. Cup in Qatar.
In addition to the fact that male and female players are guaranteed equal pay for participating in international matches, the deals include a provision, arguably the first of its kind, through which teams combine unequal payments they receive from FIFA, the ruler of world football. Body, to participate in the World Cup. Starting with the 2022 Men’s Tournament and the 2023 Women’s World Cup, this amount will be split equally between the members of both teams.
“No other country has ever done this,” said U.S. Football President Cindy Parlow Conne in an agreement to equalize World Cup payouts. “I think everyone should be proud of what we have achieved here. This is truly historic. ”
The prize pool is a noticeable concession by American men who have previously been given most of the multimillion-dollar payments that US Soccer receives from FIFA each time the team plays in the World Cup. The money-sharing deal with women also repealed what players and federation officials had long agreed was the biggest obstacle to resolving the equal pay debate. This represents potentially huge revenue for the women’s team, whose World Cup prize fund is the fraction that is paid to the men’s teams once every four years.
Under the new deal, which runs until 2028 and spans the next four World Cups, dozens of top men and women players were told in internal presentations reviewed by The New York Times that they can expect to collect an average annual salary of around $ 450,000. Football – and potentially twice as many as the years of a successful World Cup.
The difference in compensation between men and women has been one of the most contentious issues in football in recent years, especially since the American women won consecutive World Cups in 2015 and 2019 and the men failed to qualify for the 2018 tournament. Over the years, the women’s team, which includes the world’s most recognizable athletes, has stepped up and intensified the fight in court, in interviews with news media outlets, and on the biggest scenes of their sport.
Disputes have always been a complex issue, with different contracts, unequal prize money and other financial inconveniences hindering the pay gap between men and women and complicating the ability of national governing bodies such as US Soccer to resolve disagreements.
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However, the federation eventually adopted a commitment to a fair system. To achieve this, US Soccer will distribute millions of extra dollars to its top players through the intricate calculation of match bonuses for their top players, through combined prize pools and new revenue sharing agreements that give each team tens of millions of dollars in commercial advertising. Revenue that US Soccer receives annually from sponsors, broadcasters, and other partners.
Labor peace will cost a fortune: U.S. football has pledged to pay $ 18,000 per game for games won per player, and $ 24,000 per game to win some major tournaments – strengthening the status of U.S. men and women. The two highest paid national teams in the world. The federation transfers 90 percent of the money it receives from FIFA for the World Cup to the men and women players of those teams; Based on past performances and trade union forecasts, that could lead to a total prize pool of more than $ 20 million next year.
But, despite its value, the new policy of equal pay is of immeasurable importance to all participants as it will end the six-year struggle that has damaged the federation’s reputation; Threatened US Soccer’s relationships with significant sponsors; And ran millions of dollars in legal fees on all sides of the fight.
When the parties fought in court and in negotiation sessions, the dispute also sparked occasional caustic exchanges over personal confidentiality, workplace equality, and basic fairness, and received support (and second guessing) from a different team. Presidential Candidates, Star Athletes And Hollywood Celebrities – Not all of them support the women’s campaign for equal pay.
Resolving the dispute more peacefully than in court will make it easier for the federation to attract new sponsors and re-establish ties with its most prominent players. And by offering teams a share of commercial revenue, US Soccer has essentially encouraged its biggest stars to act as partners in finding new ways to increase that revenue.
“We can not deny that the money we have to pay our national teams is money that is not reinvested in the game,” Connie said when asked about the impact of the new contracts on US Soccer’s broader mission. “And people can take that perspective. “But as I look at it, our task is to try to figure out how all three groups can work together to grow the pie so that everyone can benefit.”
Cone and representatives of both teams said the deals offered a model for those seeking to restructure the multibillion-dollar sports industry, in which generational benefits mean money, exposure and opportunities still flow disproportionately to men’s sports and men’s athletes.
“These agreements have changed the game forever here in the United States,” Kone said. “And they have the potential to change the game all over the world.”
While resolving the equity struggle will have enormous symbolic and financial significance in the United States, it is unclear whether new deals will be more aspirational than globally repetitive.
Since American women began fighting for equal pay in 2016, football federations have moved from Norway to Australia to the Netherlands to pay their national teams more equally. But all of these deals have sought to equalize match-day pay rates, which are much lower than the rates American football pays to its senior teams. And all of them bypassed the biggest paycheck in football: the FIFA World Cup bonuses paid to men and women. For example, at the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France, 24 teams competed for a $ 30 million prize pool; The 32-man team, which will compete in Qatar in November, will receive $ 450 million.
In 2020, the only way to equal pay became a negotiated decision after a federal judge rejected major claims by a group of advanced women players who had sued the federation for gender discrimination. Connie, a former women national team player who has just been promoted to the role of U.S. football volunteer president, welcomed the decision with olive branches at the time, insisting on renewed negotiations. But he stepped up pressure on male players to help bridge that gap last fall when he said US Soccer had not agreed new contracts with any team that did not equal the World Cup prize money.
Walker Zimmerman, the men’s team defender and leader of his players’ union, said he and his teammates had already realized that “there was no other way to do it.” Convincing his teammates to ratify the deals that were finally reached “was not always the smoothest,” he admitted.
“Trying to express what you believe should happen, what is possible, what is right – these conversations are difficult,” Zimmerman said. “But in the end you have a group of players, both men and women, who came together and performed it.”
Despite Wednesday’s depressing spirit, U.S. men and women’s pay will still not be entirely equal: Injuries, coaching decisions, and even the number of games played by each team will affect individual player earnings. But for the first time, both the teams and the federation will be able to agree that the pay rate will still be equal.
“We still have two separate contracts,” Kone said, “but economically everything is exactly the same.”