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US Soccer announces equal pay deal

May 18, 2022

Men and women will be paid the same for representing the US national teams, after a "historic" deal was announced on Wednesday. The move comes after years of advocacy from players like Megan Rapinoe.

Megan Rapinoe
Megan Rapinoe has been a prominent campaigner for equal payImage: TIZIANA FABI/AFP

The US Soccer Federation has equalized the World Cup prize money awarded to its men's and women's teams after a fight that dragged on for years.

"This is a truly historic moment. These agreements have changed the game forever here in the United States and have the potential to change the game around the world," said US Soccer president Cindy Parlow Cone.

Wednesday's deal, which runs to 2028, states there will be: "identical compensation for all competitions, including the FIFA World Cup, and the introduction of the same commercial revenue sharing mechanism for both teams." 

The US now joins Finland, Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands, who have announced deals to bring in equal pay for mens' and womens' national teams.

Players will also now "pool and share" the otherwise unequal prize money paid by FIFA for participation in their respective World Cups. The move will put significant pressure on other federations, particularly with the Women's Euros and Africa Women Cup of Nations coming up in July.

Long-running battle

Led by prominent players Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe, American women have long pressed for gender equity. Their efforts mean the new package will also include the equalization of things like facilities, health care and child care, as well as appearance fees and bonuses.

In 2016 Becky Sauerbrunn, Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd, Megan Rapinoe, and Hope Solo had filed a complaint with the Equal Opportunity Commission stating that they were being discriminated against because of their gender.

The federation initially resisted the complaint, saying that revenue from the men's team outstripped that earned by the women.

One of the major sticking points in drawn out negotiations between the unions representing male and female players was the World Cup prize money, which is based on how far a team advances in the tournament. The US women's team are the most successful of all time with four tournament wins, whereas the US men's side have never advanced past the round of 16 since 1930. Yet men have traditionally earned more than women whatever was achieved. That will now change.

"I feel a lot of pride for the girls who are going to see this growing up, and recognize their value rather than having to fight for it," forward Margaret Purce said. "However, my dad always told me that you don't get rewarded for doing what you're supposed to do, and paying men and women equally is what you're supposed to do. 

"So I'm not giving out any gold stars, but I'm grateful for this accomplishment and for all the people who came together to make it so.''

The women's union estimates the new deal, and moving away from FIFA benchmarks, will mean that average annual pay between next year and 2028 would be $450,000 (€428,000) for a player being called up for every game, with the possibility of doubling the figure in World Cup years depending on results. Previously that figure would have stood at $327,000, up from $245,000 in 2018.

mp, eb/msh (AFP, AP)