Representatives for the men’s and women’s U.S. national teams on Tuesday signed their historic collective bargaining agreements with U.S. Soccer, formally closing a long and sometimes acrimonious fight over equal pay.
The federation announced in May that it had struck separate agreements with the players’ unions on contracts that run through 2028. The new contracts include identical pay structures for appearances and tournament victories, revenue sharing and equitable distribution of World Cup prize money.
A signing ceremony was held following the women’s friendly match against Nigeria at Audi Field in Washington, with Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh among those on hand.
“I have to give a lot of credit to everyone involved, the women’s national team and their PA (players’ association), the men’s national team and their PA, and everyone at U.S. Soccer. There were so many people that helped, that worked together to make this happen,” said U.S. Soccer President Cindy Parlow Cone, herself a former national team player. “And it wouldn’t get pushed over the line without the men jumping in and being on board with equal pay.”
After years of struggling for equitable pay and treatment, The U.S. women filed a federal gender discrimination against U.S. Soccer in 2019. The lawsuit drew international attention, prompting fans to chant “Equal Pay!” when the United States won the Women’s World Cup final in France.
In February, the two sides settled the lawsuit, with U.S. Soccer agreeing to pay the women $24 million. But the settlement was contingent on reaching new labor agreements with both teams.
The men had 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 lawsuit was settled.
The sticking point in negotiations was World Cup prize money, which is based on how far a team advances in soccer’s most prestigious 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. American women received a $110,000 bonus for winning the 2019 World Cup; the U.S. men would have received $407,000 had they won in 2018.
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.
Because the men’s national team players are currently in league play, the CBA was signed by USNSTPA Executive Director Mark Levinstein. Women’s players Crystal Dunn, Becky Sauerbrunn and Sam Mewis also signed, along with USWNTPA Executive Director Becca Roux.
Sauerbrunn addressed the crowd.
“I want to thank all of you guys for the support, all the social media posts, the messages of support, the chants of `Equal Pay’ at really funny times, showing up at our games. You guys make the difference and you are truly, truly the best fans in the world,” she said.
Former players Kristine Lilly, Briana Scurry and Lori Lindsey also attended the on-field ceremony after the U.S. defeated Nigeria 2-1.
With the CBAs accepted, a federal judge in August gave preliminary approval approved the settlement. A hearing to finalize it is set for December.