U.S. Soccer Federation president Cindy Parlow Cone penned an open letter asking the unions of the women's and men's national teams to split the FIFA World Cup prize money in an effort to combat equal pay.
Parlow Cone called on the men’s national team to enable the USSF to reallocate a portion of their World Cup payments to the women’s team.
FIFA awarded $400m in prize money for the 32 teams at the 2018 men's World Cup, including $38m to champion France, in comparison to $30m for the 24 teams at the 2019 Women's World Cup, including $4m to the U.S. after the Americans won their second consecutive title.
“As a former player, I want to once again make it clear that I, along with all of U.S. Soccer, am 100% committed to equal pay for our national team players. We remain steadfast in our dedication to ensuring equal pay for our national team," Parlow Cone said in the letter. "We're focused on demonstrating this commitment through action.
"As a federation, we would much rather negotiate a single collective bargaining agreement with both the men's and women's teams, but since neither team has agreed to take that approach, we are moving forward separately with each Players Association.
"FIFA alone controls those funds, and U.S. Soccer is legally obligated to distribute those funds based on our current negotiated collective bargaining agreements with the men's and women's teams. Within this challenge, we see an opportunity to create change. To capitalize on that opportunity, we need our men's and women's national teams to come together and re-think how we've done things in the past. To that end, we have invited the players and both Players Associations to join U.S. Soccer in negotiating a solution together that equalizes World Cup prize money between the USMNT and USWNT."
The players and USWNT Players Association have sued the USSF and rejected several statements made in the letter.
Molly Levinson, a spokesperson for the athletes involved in the situation, stated the words appear empty in comparison to the federation’s actions.
"It is simply false that in past negotiations the Federation offered the Women's National Team the 'exact same contract.' If the USSF was serious about equal pay, they would not engage in publicity stunts which fall short of addressing our issues," executive director of the USWNT Players Association Becca Roux said in a statement. We are interested in negotiating in good faith to get a fair deal for our players and will not let them use our fight for equality to create a divide between the women and men. We remain committed to working with all parties for a fair deal that lifts all players."
Levinson signaled only one positive outcome of the entire situation.
"USSF has finally acknowledged that they pay women players less than men players."
The US men’s national team provided support by filing an amicus brief signed by representatives of the men's players' union in July in addition to vocalizing their opinions on social media.
They recently addressed the federation, stating it “has spent more than three decades treating the women as an afterthought, discriminating against them through inferior wages and working conditions, and forcing the women to struggle for the equal pay and fair treatment they deserve."
A three-judge panel is said to hear oral arguments later this year or in early 2022.