Sport

US soccer equals pay for men and women in landmark agreement

The US Football Association has reached milestone agreements to pay its men’s and women’s teams equally, making America’s national governing body the first in sport to promise equal pay for both sexes.

The federation on Wednesday announced separate collective agreements until December 2028 with unions for both national teams, ending years of often bitter negotiations.

The men played under the terms of a collective bargaining agreement that expired in December 2018. The collective bargaining agreement for women expired at the end of March, but talks continued after the federation and players agreed to settle a gender discrimination lawsuit filed by some players in 2019. The settlement was conditional on the federation Work contracts that equalized wages and bonuses between the two teams.

“I’m very proud of the girls who are seeing this growing up and acknowledging their worth instead of having to fight for it. However, my father always told me that you are not rewarded for doing what you are supposed to do – and paying men and women equally is what you should do,” said United States forward Margaret Purce. “So I’m not awarding gold stars, but I’m grateful for this achievement and for all the people who came together to make this happen.”

The USWNT has an equal pay agreement with the US Football Association.
The USWNT has an equal pay agreement with the US Football Association.
AP

Perhaps the biggest sticking point was the World Cup prize money, which depends on how far a team progresses in the tournament. While the US women have enjoyed success on the international stage with back-to-back World Cup titles, disparities in FIFA prize money meant they took home far fewer than the men’s winners.

The unions agreed to pool FIFA payments for the Men’s World Cup later this year and the Women’s World Cup next year, as well as the 2026 and 2027 tournaments.

Each player receives match participation fees, making the USSF the first federation to pool FIFA prize money in this way, according to the USSF.

“We saw it as an opportunity, a chance to be leaders on that front and join the women’s team and US soccer. So we’re really excited to be able to close the deal,” said Walker Zimmerman, a defense attorney who is a member of the US National Team Players Association leadership group.

The federation was previously based on payments from FIFA, which earmarked $400 million for the 2018 men’s tournament, including $38 million for champions France, and $30 million for the 2019 women’s tournament, including $4 million for the champion USA.

FIFA has increased the total for the 2022 Men’s World Cup to $440 million and its President, Gianni Infantino, has proposed that FIFA increase the women’s prize money for the 2023 Women’s World Cup, where FIFA will field teams to 32 , doubled to $60 million.

For current World Cup cycles, the USSF will pool FIFA funds, deduct 10% from the maximum amount and then split the rest equally between 46 players – 23 players on each team’s roster. For the 2026-27 cycle, the pre-split USSF reduction increases to 20%.

After missing the 2018 World Cup, the men qualified for this year’s World Cup in Qatar from November. The women’s team will try to qualify for the 2023 World Cup this year, co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand.

At smaller tournaments, such as those hosted by the Governing Body of North America, players receive identical play bonuses. And for exhibition matches, players receive appropriate appearance fees and performance payments based on match score and opponent’s rank. Players who do not dress up will be paid a fee equivalent to attending a national team training camp.

Former and current members of the USWNT (from left) Briana Scurry, Margaret 'Midge' Purce, Kelley O'Hara, Julie Foudy and US Soccer President Cindy Parlow Cone pose for a photo with Speaker of the California House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi.  , before an event celebrating Equal Pay Day and Women's History Month in the East Room of the White House on March 15, 2022.
Former and current members of the USWNT (from left) Briana Scurry, Margaret ‘Midge’ Purce, Kelley O’Hara, Julie Foudy and US Soccer President Cindy Parlow Cone pose for a photo with the Speaker of the House March 15, Nancy Pelosi, 2022.
AP

The women gave up guaranteed base salaries that had been part of their CBA since 2005. Some players were guaranteed an annual salary of $100,000.

“I think we’ve outgrown some conditions that look like we’ve lost something but now our (profile) league is actually strong enough where we don’t need that many guaranteed contracts now, you know we can move on more a pay-to-play model,” said Purce.

Childcare, which has applied to women for more than 25 years, is extended to men during national team training camps and matches.

The women and men also receive a portion of the commercial revenue from tickets to USSF-controlled games, with bonuses for sell-outs, and each team receives a portion of the revenue from broadcasts, partners and sponsors.

Players receive a 401(k) plan and the USSF pays up to 5% of player compensation, subject to IRS limits. This money is deducted from the shares of business income.

“There were moments when I thought it was all going to fall apart and then it came back together and it’s a real credit to all the different groups coming together and negotiating around the table,” said federation president Cindy Parlow Cone, a former national team Player who became head of the governing body in 2020. “I think that was really the turning point. In the past trying to negotiate a collective agreement with the women and then vice versa and negotiate the collective agreements with the men and vice versa was a real challenge. I think the real turning point was when we finally all sat in the same room, sat at the same table, and worked together to achieve that goal.”

Women ended six years of equal pay litigation in February with an agreement that ordered the USSF to pay $24 million, an agreement conditional on new collective agreements being signed.

As part of the settlement, players will split $22 million, about a third of what they were asking for in damages. The USSF also agreed to establish a $2 million fund to support players in their post-soccer careers and charitable efforts aimed at promoting the sport for women.

Mark Levinstein, attorney for the men’s union, said the agreement ended “more than 20 years of discrimination against USWNT by the union.”

“Together with the USWNTPA, the USMNT players have achieved what everyone thought was impossible – an agreement that provides USMNT players with fair compensation and USWNT players with equal pay and working conditions,” he said. “The new FA leadership should be given tremendous credit for working with the players to achieve these agreements.”

https://nypost.com/2022/05/18/us-soccer-equalizes-pay-for-men-and-women-in-landmark-agreement/ US soccer equals pay for men and women in landmark agreement

JOE HERNANDEZ

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