U.S. Soccer Agrees to Pay Men’s and Women’s Teams Equally

Jul 27, 2021; Ibaraki, Japan; USA player Megan Rapinoe (15) kneels before the start of the game against Australia during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games at Ibaraki Kashima Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jack Gruber-USA TODAY Sports
Jack Gruber-USA TODAY Sports

The U.S. Soccer Federation announced Wednesday that it has agreed to a deal to pay the players on the U.S. Women’s National Team the same as it pays players on the U.S. Men’s National Team.

The collective bargaining contract will run through 2028 and includes “equalization” of World Cup prize money, according to NPR.

The contract comes after several years of efforts by the USWNT to force the federation to deliver equal pay between the two teams. The agreement will also afford women players $22 million in back pay.

“We hope that this Agreement and its historic achievements in not only providing for equal pay but also in improving the training and playing environment for national team players will similarly serve as the foundation for continued growth of women’s soccer both in the United States and abroad,” said USWNT player Becky Sauerbrunn.

The pay scales between the two teams have “identical economic terms,” the federation reports, which includes equal pay for annual salaries and incentives and tournament play, including the two World Cups.

The teams will also have the same deals in revenue sharing on ticket sales.

“This is a truly historic moment,” U.S. Soccer President Cindy Parlow Cone said after the announcement. “These agreements have changed the game forever here in the United States and have the potential to change the game around the world.”

While the agreement is being called “equal pay,” the deal actually heavily favors the women. Women’s soccer has far fewer fans, both watching on TV and going to stadiums.

The 2019 Women’s World Cup, for instance, reached a record high of 1.12 billion viewers across the world. That may sound like a lot until you realize that the year before, the Men’s World Cup earned 3.572 billion viewers worldwide and earned $6 billion in profits.

The earning disparity is nothing new, either. For example, the 2010 Men’s World Cup earned $4 billion in revenue. But the Women’s World Cup that year earned only $73 million.

Men’s soccer reaches far more fans and earns far more money from ticket sales and sponsorship. But if women are now being paid the same as the male players, that means the women players reap greater rewards for bringing far less income into the league than their male counterparts.

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