WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Soccer agreed last week to pool all World Cup bonus earnings and divide the proceeds equally between the men’s and women’s national teams. FIFA currently pays $400 million in prize money for the men’s international tournament but only $60 million for the women’s tournament, which is smaller and draws fewer viewers.
Under the terms of the deal inked last week, bonuses earned by either team will now be shared, making a players’ total compensation contingent, not only on the performance of his or her own team, but also on the performance of the other U.S. team.
The men’s and women’s teams are represented by separate unions and governed by separate collective bargaining agreements. Under previous contracts, the players on the women’s team received guaranteed salaries and benefits, but they received smaller bonuses than those players on the men’s team. The men’s contract, by contrast, was a pay-to-play contract without guaranteed salaries.
Going forward, neither team will receive guaranteed salaries, but the women’s team will still receive generous benefits (including injury pay, child care, and parental leave) that the male players do not receive.
The agreement brings to a close a 2019 lawsuit filed by female players alleging that U.S. Soccer paid them unequally in violation of federal law. In May 2020, the trial court threw out that case, finding that U.S. Soccer paid the women’s team more than the men’s team. Despite having the law on its side, U.S. Soccer last year caved to intense media and political pressure and settled with the female players for $24 million dollars and a promise that new contracts would adopt the same bonus scale for future male and female competitions.
May Mailman, senior fellow at Independent Women’s Law Center, issued the following statement:
“This new contract may be a victory for the tremendous bargaining power of the women’s labor union and for the media’s non-stop pressure campaign against U.S. Soccer. But it is not necessarily a victory for women, whose interests in guaranteed salaries, benefits, and/or flexible schedules may differ from those of men.”
Jennifer C. Braceras, director of Independent Women’s Law Center added,
“The new high-risk women’s contract means that female players will not be paid if they are benched or if a game is canceled, making income less reliable. It remains to be seen whether this arrangement benefits the majority of the players on the women’s national team or only the super stars.”
For more information on the underlying litigation, read HERE.
Independent Women’s Law Center advocates for equal opportunity, individual liberty, and respect for the American constitutional order.