The U.S. Soccer Federation reached milestone agreements to pay its men’s and women’s teams equally, which made the American national governing body the first in the sport to promise the same amount of money for both sexes.
The deals grew partly out of a push by players on the more successful women’s team, including Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe, who were at the forefront of the gender equity fight while they were leading the team to a Women’s World Cup championship back in 2019. The struggle became so much a part of the team’s story that chants of “Equal pay! Equal pay!” rose from the crowd as U.S. players celebrated winning the title in France.
However, 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’s team 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 team. The women’s team received a $110,000 bonus for winning the 2019 World Cup whereas the men’s team would have received $407,000 had they won in 2018.
USSF declared that each player will get matching game appearance fees which makes it the first federation to pool FIFA prize money in this manner. President Joe Biden Tweeted, “I’m proud of you for never giving up and I commend the U.S. Soccer for agreeing to do the right thing,”. “Let’s keep up the fight until we close the gender pay gap in every industry,” he added.
The federation previously based bonuses on payments from FIFA, which earmarked $400 million for the 2018 men’s tournament, and $30 million for the 2019 women’s tournament. But, this year, FIFA has increased the total to $440 million for the 2022 men’s World Cup, and has proposed to double the women’s prize money to $60 million for the 2023 Women’s World Cup.
After missing the 2018 World Cup, the men’s team qualified for this year’s World Cup in Qatar. However, the women’s team still needs to qualify this year for the 2023 World Cup, co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand.