Cindy Parlow Cone wrote about several subjects, including CBA negotiations with the U.S. women’s and men’s national teams. (USA TODAY Sports)
This is U.S. Soccer president Cindy Parlow Cone’s letter to soccer fans that she sent out on Tuesday morning
To our fans:
2021 was a year of both great promise and challenge.
On the field, our national teams continued to excel at the highest levels across all competitions. For the sixth consecutive year, our women’s national team finished the year ranked No. 1 in the world, winning the 2021 SheBelieves Cup and earning a bronze medal at the Olympics. And our men’s national team set a record for most wins in a calendar year, winning the Concacaf Nations League and Concacaf Gold Cup and entering the new year in a strong position to qualify for the 2022 FIFA men’s World Cup in Qatar.
Last year was an important year for our leadership team at U.S. Soccer as we worked to establish a stronger foundation to support the long-term growth and evolution of soccer in the United States. These efforts were headlined by our new, landmark agreement with Nike announced in November – which represents the most significant commercial partnership in the history of U.S. Soccer, as well as one of the largest investments in soccer around the world.
Although progress was made on several fronts in 2021, the year was also marked by profound challenges, including the allegations of unconscionable abusive behavior and sexual misconduct in the National Women’s Soccer League. U.S. Soccer hired former U.S. Attorney and Deputy Attorney General of the United States Sally Yates to lead an independent investigation into this matter. As she and her team do this important work, we remain committed to giving them the access and resources they need to follow the truth wherever it may lead.
2021 also saw U.S. Soccer continue to work toward resolution of the litigation brought by the women’s national team. U.S. Soccer remains committed to resolving this case outside of court for the long-term benefit of the sport at all levels. We would happily agree to settle so that we can focus on working together to chart a more positive and collaborative path forward.
Identical contract and equalizing prize money
As we have over the last several months, U.S. Soccer will continue to share regular updates on our efforts to reach new labor agreements that equalize FIFA World Cup prize money between our women’s and men’s national teams. I speak for our entire leadership team when I say we are ready and willing to meet with both groups of players as often as needed to get these deals done.
In September, we offered identical contract proposals to the men’s and women’s players associations, with the goal of aligning both teams under a single collective bargaining agreement (CBA) structure. Our proposal ensured that our women’s and men’s national team players remain among the highest-paid in the world, in part by providing a first-ever revenue sharing structure. In November, we sat down with both unions together for the first time ever and proposed good faith solutions for achieving this goal.
While we haven’t received a commitment from either union to move forward with a single pay structure, we have been encouraged that they are willing to join us in discussions about that possibility as we continue to negotiate separate CBAs with each for now.
Additionally, we are still focused on taking the important step of equalizing FIFA World Cup prize money, and will not agree to any collective bargaining agreement that does not include that commitment from the two unions.
USWNT CBA negotiations
We have been encouraged by the constructive nature of our recent CBA negotiations with the women’s national team. These discussions have benefited greatly from the consistent and active participation of the women’s players at the bargaining table. Last month, we agreed to extend the negotiation window under their current CBA until March 31, 2022. We believe this development reflects our collective ability to work together and the urgency of both sides to reach a new agreement.
USMNT CBA negotiations
We still have much work ahead of us in our negotiations with representatives for the men’s national team, and we hope they continue to engage in these important discussions. Given their vocal support for our shared commitment to equal pay and the fact that they continue to play under a CBA that expired over three years ago, we trust the men’s national team shares our goal of equalizing FIFA World Cup prize money and sense of urgency about getting a deal done.
To find a solution, particularly on equalizing FIFA World Cup prize money, we need everyone off the sidelines and into the game. We will continue to invite the men’s national team to participate in each of our bargaining sessions with the women’s national team, including five sessions this month alone, and we hope that the men’s recent participation signals their willingness to be more regularly involved moving forward.
We strongly believe it is in everyone’s best interest to find a way to equalize FIFA World Cup prize money and move forward with a single pay structure – and to do so as soon as possible.
As we build on important progress made in 2021, our commitment to you – our fans – is that we remain laser-focused on putting these remaining building blocks in place for the good of the game at all levels of play. We continue to be inspired by your passion and are enormously grateful for your support.
With every new year comes new opportunities, and we look forward to what we can achieve – together.
Cindy Parlow Cone
U.S. Soccer president