On May 18, U.S. soccer history was made and a ball wasn’t even kicked.
That’s when an historic Collective Bargaining Agreement was announced that affect the men’s and women’s national teams, after years of the U.S. women’s national team fighting for that right.
The USSF, the United States Women’s National Team Players Association (USWNTPA) and the United States National Soccer Team Players Association (USNSTPA) have agreed to terms of historic, first-of-their-kind CBAs that achieve equal pay and set the global standard moving forward in international soccer.
The two CBAs, which run through 2028, achieved equal pay through identical economic terms. These economic terms include identical compensation for all competitions, including the World Cup, and the introduction of the same commercial revenue sharing mechanism for both teams. The agreements will ensure that U.S. Soccer’s Senior National Team players remain among the highest paid in the world.
After the U.S. women’s national team defeated Nigeria in an international friendly on Sept. 6, there was one more big of unfinished business to attend to at Audi Field in Washington, D.C.
That was the official signing by the U.S. Soccer Federation, the U.S. Women’s National Team Players Association and the U.S National Soccer Team Players Association of the CBA. A large portion of the crowd of 18,869 stayed to watch the signing ceremony.
So, U.S. Soccer became the first federation in the world to equalize FIFA World Cup prize money awarded to the U.S. women’s national team and the U.S. men’s national team for participation in their respective World Cups.
The new CBAs improve non-economic terms, including player health and safety, data privacy and the need to balance responsibilities to both club and country.
“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,” U.S. Soccer president Cindy Parlow Cone said in a statement. “U.S. Soccer and the USWNT and USMNT players have reset their relationship with these new agreements and are leading us forward to an incredibly exciting new phase of mutual growth and collaboration as we continue our mission to become the preeminent sport in the United States.
“I am grateful for the commitment and collaboration of both the men’s and women’s National Teams and I am incredibly proud of the hard work that has led to this moment. Everyone who cares about our sport should share in this pride as we look forward to working together to grow soccer for generations to come,” Cone added.
Players association leaders also gave their thumb’s up to the CBA.
“The accomplishments in this CBA are a testament to the incredible efforts of WNT players on and off the field,” USWNT player and USWNTPA president Becky Sauerbrunn said in a statement. “The gains we have been able to achieve are both because of the strong foundation laid by the generations of WNT players that came before the current team and through our union’s recent collaboration with our counterparts at the USNSTPA and leadership at U.S. Soccer. 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.”
“They said equal pay for men and women was not possible, but that did not stop us and we went ahead and achieved it,” said Walker Zimmerman, member of USNSTPA leadership group. “We hope this will awaken others to the need for this type of change, and will inspire FIFA and others around the world to move in the same direction.”
Key aspects of the agreements included:
Equal Pay for Equal Work
The CBAs provide for equal rates of pay across the components of Senior National Team player pay:
- On-field Base and Performance Pay:
- For friendly games, players on the USWNT and USMNT will be paid identical roster appearance fees and performance payments, based on the outcome of the match and the rank of the opponent, with identical tiering structures. Players not on the game roster will earn the equivalent of an appearance fee for their participation in a Senior National Team camp.
- For official competitions, including the World Cup, USWNT and USMNT players will earn identical game appearance fees. For official competitions other than the World Cup, USWNT and USMNT players will earn identical game bonuses.
- The CBAs provide that USWNT players will no longer receive guaranteed salaries, and those who play in the NWSL will no longer have their NWSL salaries paid by U.S. Soccer.
- Equalization of World Cup Prize Money:
- In a first-of-its-kind agreement, U.S. Soccer has agreed with both the USWNTPA and the USNSTPA to pool and share a portion of prize money paid for the teams’ participation in the 2022 Men’s World Cup (MWC) and the 2023 Women’s World Cup (WWC). In this arrangement, the players on the 2022 MWC roster and on the 2023 WWC roster will be paid an equal percentage of the collective prize money paid by FIFA for the teams’ participation and performance in their respective World Cups. The same will occur with the 2026 MWC and the 2027 MWC.
- For non-World Cup tournaments, the CBAs ensure that players on both teams will earn an equal amount of the total prize money paid when both teams participate in the same competition.
- Commercial Revenue Share:
- In another first for U.S. Soccer and the Players Associations, U.S. Soccer will share a portion of its broadcast, partner and sponsorship revenue with a 50/50 split of that share divided equally between USWNT and USMNT. This new revenue-sharing framework will provide additional encouragement for all parties to work together to grow the game.
- U.S. Soccer will pay the USWNT and USMNT players a share of the revenue from tickets sold at U.S. Soccer-controlled home matches and a bonus amount for those games that are sellouts.
Senior National Team Benefits
In addition to equal compensation, all Senior National Team players will receive the following benefits:
- Child Care: During Senior National Team training camps and matches, U.S. Soccer will provide childcare, as it has for the USWNT for more than 25 years.
- Retirement: U.S. Soccer will provide a 401(k) plan for all USWNT and USMNT players, while matching up to 5% of players’ compensation, subject to IRS limits. Matching amounts paid to MNT and WNT players will be deducted from each team’s respective share of commercial revenue payable in each year.
Best-in-Class Playing and Training Environments
Outside of compensation, the CBAs specify important protections to ensure that U.S. Soccer continues to provide a best-in-class playing and training environment for its Senior National Team players. Both Senior National Teams will receive equal support, while allowing for flexibility due to each team’s specific needs.