US Soccer equalizes pay in milestone with women, men /



(AP) — The U.S. Soc­cer Fed­er­a­tion reached mile­stone agree­ments to pay its men’s and women’s teams equal­ly, mak­ing the Amer­i­can na­tion­al gov­ern­ing body the first in the sport to promise both sex­es match­ing mon­ey.

The fed­er­a­tion an­nounced sep­a­rate col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing agree­ments through De­cem­ber 2028 with the unions for both na­tion­al teams on Wednes­day, end­ing years of of­ten ac­ri­mo­nious ne­go­ti­a­tions.

The men have been play­ing un­der the terms of a CBA that ex­pired in De­cem­ber 2018. The women’s CBA ex­pired at the end of March, but talks con­tin­ued af­ter the fed­er­a­tion and the play­ers agreed to set­tle a gen­der dis­crim­i­na­tion law­suit brought by some of the play­ers in 2019. The set­tle­ment was con­tin­gent on the fed­er­a­tion reach­ing labour con­tracts that equal­ized pay and bonus­es be­tween the two teams.

«I feel a lot of pride for the girls who are go­ing to see this grow­ing up and rec­og­nize their val­ue rather than hav­ing to fight for it. How­ev­er, my dad al­ways told me that you don’t get re­ward­ed for do­ing what you’re sup­posed to do — and pay­ing men and women equal­ly is what you’re sup­posed to do,» U.S. for­ward Mar­garet Purce said. «So, I’m not giv­ing out any gold stars, but I’m grate­ful for this ac­com­plish­ment and for all the peo­ple who came to­geth­er to make it so.»

Per­haps the biggest stick­ing point was World Cup prize mon­ey, which is based on how far a team ad­vances in the tour­na­ment. While the U.S. women have been suc­cess­ful on the in­ter­na­tion­al stage with back-to-back World Cup ti­tles, dif­fer­ences in FI­FA prize mon­ey meant they took home far less than the men’s win­ners.

The unions agreed to pool FI­FA’s pay­ments for the men’s World Cup lat­er this year and next year’s Women’s World Cup, as well as for the 2026 and 2027 tour­na­ments.

Each play­er will get match­ing game ap­pear­ance fees in what the USSF said makes it the first fed­er­a­tion to pool FI­FA prize mon­ey in this man­ner.

«We saw it as an op­por­tu­ni­ty, an op­por­tu­ni­ty to be lead­ers in this front and join in with the women’s side and U.S. Soc­cer. So, we’re just ex­cit­ed that this is how we were able to get the deal done,» said Walk­er Zim­mer­man, a de­fend­er who is part of the U.S. Na­tion­al Team Play­ers As­so­ci­a­tion lead­er­ship group.

The fed­er­a­tion pre­vi­ous­ly based bonus­es on pay­ments from FI­FA, which ear­marked $400 mil­lion for the 2018 men’s tour­na­ment, in­clud­ing $38 mil­lion to cham­pi­on France, and $30 mil­lion for the 2019 women’s tour­na­ment, in­clud­ing $4 mil­lion to the cham­pi­on Unit­ed States.

FI­FA has in­creased the to­tal to $440 mil­lion for the 2022 men’s World Cup, and its pres­i­dent, Gi­an­ni In­fan­ti­no, has pro­posed that FI­FA dou­ble the women’s prize mon­ey to $60 mil­lion for the 2023 Women’s World Cup, in which FI­FA has in­creased the teams to 32.

For the cur­rent World Cup cy­cles, the USSF will pool the FI­FA funds, tak­ing 10% off the top and then split­ting the rest equal­ly among 46 play­ers — 23 play­ers on the ros­ter of each team. For the 2026-27 cy­cle, the USSF cut in­creas­es to 20% be­fore the split.

Af­ter miss­ing the 2018 World Cup, the men qual­i­fied for this year’s World Cup in Qatar start­ing in No­vem­ber. The women’s team will seek to qual­i­fy this year for the 2023 World Cup, co-host­ed by Aus­tralia and New Zealand.

For less­er tour­na­ments, such as those run by the gov­ern­ing body of North Amer­i­ca, play­ers will earn iden­ti­cal game bonus­es. And for ex­hi­bi­tion games, play­ers will re­ceive match­ing ap­pear­ance fees and per­for­mance pay­ments based on the match re­sult and op­po­nent rank. Play­ers who don’t dress will earn a fee that is the equiv­a­lent of par­tic­i­pat­ing in a na­tion­al team train­ing camp.

The women gave up guar­an­teed base salaries which had been part of their CBA since 2005. Some play­ers had been guar­an­teed an­nu­al salaries of $100,000.

«I think we’ve out­grown some of the con­di­tions that may look like we have lost some­thing, but now our (pro­fes­sion­al) league is ac­tu­al­ly strong enough where now we don’t need as many guar­an­teed con­tracts, you know, we can be on more of a pay-to-play mod­el,» Purce said.

Child­care, cov­ered for women for more than 25 years, will be ex­tend­ed to men dur­ing na­tion­al team train­ing camps and match­es.

The women and men al­so will re­ceive a por­tion of com­mer­cial rev­enue from tick­ets for match­es con­trolled by the USSF, with bonus­es for sell-outs, and each team will get a por­tion of broad­cast, part­ner and spon­sor rev­enue.

Play­ers will get a 401(k) plan and the USSF will match up to 5% of a play­er’s com­pen­sa­tion, sub­ject to IRS lim­its. That mon­ey will be de­duct­ed from the shares of com­mer­cial rev­enue.

«There were mo­ments when I thought it was all go­ing to fall apart and then it came back to­geth­er and it’s a re­al cred­it to all the dif­fer­ent groups com­ing to­geth­er, ne­go­ti­at­ing at one ta­ble,» said fed­er­a­tion Pres­i­dent Cindy Par­low Cone, a for­mer na­tion­al team play­er who be­came head of the gov­ern­ing body in 2020.

«I think that’s where the turn­ing point re­al­ly hap­pened. Be­fore, try­ing to ne­go­ti­ate a CBA with the women and then turn around and ne­go­ti­ate CBA terms with the men and vice ver­sa, was re­al­ly chal­leng­ing. I think the re­al turn­ing point was when we fi­nal­ly were all in the same room sit­ting at the same ta­ble, work­ing to­geth­er and col­lab­o­rat­ing to reach this goal.»

Women end­ed six years of lit­i­ga­tion over equal pay in Feb­ru­ary in a deal call­ing for the USSF to pay $24 mil­lion, a deal con­tin­gent on reach­ing new col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing agree­ments.

As part of the set­tle­ment, play­ers will split $22 mil­lion, about one-third of what they had sought in dam­ages. The USSF al­so agreed to es­tab­lish a fund with $2 mil­lion to ben­e­fit the play­ers in their post-soc­cer ca­reers and char­i­ta­ble ef­forts aimed at grow­ing the sport for women.

Mark Levin­stein, coun­sel for the men’s union, said the agree­ment end­ed «more than 20 years of fed­er­a­tion dis­crim­i­na­tion against the USWNT play­ers.»

«To­geth­er with the USWNT­PA, the USM­NT play­ers achieved what every­one said was im­pos­si­ble — an agree­ment that pro­vides fair com­pen­sa­tion to the USM­NT play­ers and equal pay and equal work­ing con­di­tions to the USWNT play­ers,» he said. «The new fed­er­a­tion lead­er­ship should get tremen­dous cred­it for work­ing with the play­ers to achieve these agree­ments.»

LINK ORIGINAL: The Trinidad Guardian