‘Historic’ equal pay deal for US men and women footballers

US player Megan Rapinoe in a 2021 game against Korea Republic in Kansas City

The US men’s and women’s national soccer teams will receive equal pay under new contracts that feature an unprecedented split of World Cup prize money, the US Soccer Federation announced Wednesday.

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

But the revolutionary feature is the stipulation that players from both teams pool and share the otherwise unequal prize money paid by global governing body FIFA for participation in their respective World Cups.

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FIFA awarded France $38 million for winning the 2018 men’s World Cup but only $4 million to the United States for their 2019 Women’s World Cup triumph.

The men’s team in 2018 — last placed in the World Cup in Russia — also received double the prize money of the women’s team in 2019 when they were champions.

In reconciling that discrepancy with the new agreements, US Soccer is living up to it’s “One Nation, One Team” tagline, said US forward Midge Purce, who was a member of the bargaining committee for the women’s players’ association.

For non-World Cup tournaments, such as those organized by regional governing body CONCACAF, US players from “both teams will earn an equal amount of the total prize money paid when both teams participate in the same competition.”

“The accomplishments in this CBA are a testament to the incredible efforts of WNT players on and off the field,” said US women’s captain Becky Sauerbrunn, president of the women’s union.

“This is a big deal,” tweeted President Joe Biden of the agreement on Thursday night.

Center-back Walker Zimmerman, a member of the men’s players’ association bargaining committee, admitted the negotiations involved some “tough conversations” but said that ultimately the men were proud to “come alongside” the women’s team.

“They said equal pay for men and women was not possible, but that did not stop us and we went ahead and achieved it,” Zimmerman said.

The question of World Cup prize money had formed a prominent part of the lawsuit, which was filed in 2019 and accused the federation of “stubbornly refusing” to pay its men and women’s players equally.

The United States women have won four Women’s World Cup titles and four Olympic gold medals. They are chasing an unprecedented third consecutive Women’s World Cup crown after hoisting trophies in 2015 at Canada and 2019 in France.

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