The landmark settlement marks the end of a six-year standoff over player compensation — and a new road forward for the two-time defending World Cup champs.
The United States Women’s National Team‘s dispute with the US Soccer Federation over equal pay is over. On Tuesday, both parties announced that they have reached an agreement that will see the governing body pay USWNT athletes a total of $24 million.
The total sum is divided into two parts, as per the settlement’s terms:
- $22 million to the players
- An “additional $2 million into an account to benefit the USWNT players in their post-career goals and charitable efforts related to women’s and girl’s soccer”
As both parties said in a joint statement: “We are pleased to announce that, contingent on the negotiation of a new collective bargaining agreement, we will have resolved our longstanding dispute over equal pay and proudly stand together in a shared commitment advancing equality in soccer… Today we recognize the legacy of the past USWNT leaders who helped to make this day possible… we look forward to continuing to work together to grow women’s soccer and advance opportunities for young girls and women in the United States and across the globe.”
The USWNT originally filed the suit in 2019 after winning the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Paris, their fourth such championship in the sport’s biggest tournament. No other women’s national team has more than two. Meanwhile, the US men have never won the big one, only finishing as high as third all the way back in 1930.
A major discrepancy lay in the prize money available for the respective World Cups. FIFA doubled the prize pool for the Women’s World Cup in 2018 from $15 million to $30 million; on the men’s side, the pot was $400 million — that’s a $370 million gender pay gap.
Even after winning the 2019 World Cup title over the Netherlands, the crowd erupted in “equal pay!” chants as the USWNT players celebrated. All told, the women had been seeking $66 million in damages from US Soccer, but after a series of legal twists and turns and seemingly defiant rhetoric from US Soccer, $24 million is where the two sides ultimately met.
Still, longtime star and World Cup hero Megan Rapinoe appeared on Good Morning America elated. “I’m so proud of all the hard work that all of us did to get us here. It’s a really amazing day,” she said. “I think we’re going to look back on this day and say US Soccer changed for the better. We can’t go back and undo the [injustices] that we faced, but the only justice that is coming out of this is that we know that something like this is never going to happen again.”
As United States Soccer Federation president Cindy Parlow Cone told ESPN, ” We have a lot of work to do and continuing to rebuild the relationships with the players. We have to come to a solution on the CBA agreements, but the focus now shifts to growing the game from a commercial perspective with our strategic partners and having the players on our side to go hand-in-hand to encourage FIFA to equalize the World Cup prize money.”
The 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup will be jointly hosted by Australia and New Zealand. The US women are unanimously considered favorites to hoist the trophy once again.