Following a year-long campaign for equal pay, the U.S. women’s national soccer team (USWNT) has entered into new collective bargaining agreements under which all members will receive the same pay as members of the men’s national soccer team (USMNT). The agreements went into effect June 2, 2022, and they will remain valid through 2028.
Aside from the gender pay equity provisions, the agreements provide that the teams will pool any prize money that the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) receives from FIFA, the organization that governs soccer worldwide, for participating in the World Cup. USSF will share part of its revenues from broadcast, partnership, and sponsorship with the players. After USSF takes its share of this revenue, the women’s and men’s teams will split the remaining revenue. Additionally, all players will receive a share of the revenue of tickets sold at home matches controlled by USSF, with bonus amounts for sold-out games.
USSF has a long history of paying members of the USWNT less than members of the USMNT. For example, in 2015, the USWNT’s World Cup final was the most-watched soccer game on a U.S. network. The USWNT brought in $50.8 million in revenue between 2016 and 2018, whereas the USMNT brought in $49.9 million. The USMNT continued to receive larger World Cup bonuses from USSF, even when they failed to advance in the tournament. In 2019, the USWNT received $4 million for winning its second consecutive World Cup title; in 2014, the USMNT received $5.4 million for reaching only the round of 16.
The USWNT finally filed suit against USSF, alleging wage discrimination and unequal working conditions. In February 2022, the USWNT was awarded $24 million in damages, contingent on the parties reaching a new collective bargaining agreement.
The USWNT’s fight for pay equity is far from uncommon in America today. Although the pay gap has slowly lessened since 2015, it now has stalled altogether; according to Payscale’s 2022 State of the Gender Pay Gap Report, women still earn 82 cents for every $1 that men earn.