The US men’s and women’s soccer teams will share prize money from their respective World Cups equally in a historic agreement announced on Wednesday.
US Soccer and the unions for the two teams reached the deal during negotiations for their new collective bargaining agreements, which have now been ratified.
"The accomplishments in this CBA are a testament to the incredible efforts of WNT players on and off the field," said USWNT player and USWNT players' association president Becky Sauerbrunn.
“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 [men’s players union] and leadership at US 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.”
USMNT defender Walker Zimmerman, who is a member of the men's union leadership group, also welcomed the deal. "There are tough conversations, but at the end of the day, it is the right thing to do," Zimmerman said.
“It’s something that [the US women’s team players] deserve. It’s something that they have fought for so hard, and, to be honest, sometimes it does feel like we had just kind of come alongside of them and had been a little late.”
Fifa’s prize money for the men’s and women’s World Cups is unequal. The bonus pool for this year’s men’s World Cup in Qatar is €381 million, while the prize money for the women’s tournament in Australia in 2023 is €57 million.
Under the new agreement, the unions for the US men’s and women’s teams will share the prize money from the 2022 and 2023 World Cups. The US men have already qualified for Qatar 2022, while the women’s team are the reigning women’s champions and are heavy favourites to book their place for Australia 2023 later this summer.
World Cup prize money was not the only area where equal deals were reached. Shares of ticket sales will now be equal, as will win bonuses. Some aspects of income and benefits will differ between the teams. The men will not share their $2.5 million (€2.3 million) bonus for qualifying for this year’s World Cup as it was part of the their previous CBA. USWNT players will receive benefits relating to childcare and parental leave that will not apply to their male counterparts.
"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," said US Soccer president Cindy Parlow Cone, who is also a former USWNT player.
“US 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.”
The US women’s team has long fought for equal treatment with the men’s team. In December 2020, they reached an agreement with US Soccer over equal work conditions with their male counterparts. The players were granted the same conditions as the US men’s team in areas such as travel, hotel accommodation, the right to play on grass rather than artificial turf, and staffing. Then, in February, the team agreed a $24 million (€22.8 million) settlement that ended a six-year legal battle over equal pay.