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USWNT & USMNT reach equal pay agreement

Chris Smith
Big change is coming in US Soccer
Big change is coming in US Soccer / Brad Smith/ISI Photos/GettyImages

The US Soccer Federation (USSF) announced on Wednesday that it has agreed to new, separate collective bargaining agreements with the USMNT and USWNT unions, resulting in equal pay.

Under the new agreements, players from each team will be paid identical game bonuses and appearance fees, as well as sharing the sum of prize money from their respective World Cup runs.

When the USWNT won the World Cup in 2019, they received a $4m bonus, while the men had received $9m for reaching the round of 16 in 2014.

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The two deals, which will pool World Cup prize money and share it equally, go into effect on June 1 and will run simultaneously through the end of 2028. The USMNT's previous CBA expired in December 2018, while the USWNT's ran out at the end of 2021 but had been extended.

Former USWNT player Cindy Parlow Cone - now president of the USSF - has been the spearhead behind bringing pay in line between the two teams and has expressed pride in the entire organization for getting the negotiations over the line.

"I've been saying it for a long time. I wanted to lead on this. I wanted U.S. Soccer to lead on this," Parlow Cone told ESPN. "But we couldn't do it alone. We needed both the men's players and the men's [union] and the women's players and the women's [union] to come together in one room to negotiate a contract.

"And I'll be honest, there were days that I didn't think we were going to get it across the line. But we are here, and I'm just so incredibly proud of what we have accomplished and what it is going to mean, not only for the game here in the U.S. but globally."

In a letter posted on the US Soccer website, Parlow Cone added: "This is a truly historic moment. In becoming the first federation in the world to solve the massive and vexing challenge of equalizing FIFA World Cup prize money, U.S. Soccer and our players have changed the game forever here at home, with the hopes of inspiring change around the world."

Nashville SC and USMNT defender Walker Zimmerman - a member of the US National Soccer Team Players Association (USNSTPA) leadership - expressed his excitement and optimism for both teams supporting each other as one united entity.

"I'm really excited to start this partnership almost fresh, a clean slate. We're working together," he said. "We have accomplished so much together with this revolutionary CBA, and certainly we're [going to] be cheering like crazy, because that's exactly what this CBA is. It's equal. We will be their biggest fans. I'm sure they will be our biggest fans, as well."

USWNT forward Midge Purce added: "I think what this CBA does is it finally creates that 'One Nation. One Team.' And I think that it's really brought us together under that ideology that we've been chasing after for a really long time."

The new deals will also see the women's team move away from receiving guaranteed salaries from the national team, instead operating under a pay-for-play style structure that has long been employed on the men's side.

USWNT players will still have unique access to injury protection, child care and parental leave.

"The ability to do that has come a lot from the strength that the NWSL has gained in the past few years," Purce said of the pay-for-play structure. "We have a strong enough league here at home where we can depend on those salaries a little bit more and leave a little more risk up to the national team. And I think that's really helped free up that risk."

According to ESPN, the USMNT will still receive a bonus of $2.5m as reward for qualifying for the 2022 World Cup as that was under the terms set in the old CBA.

But in USSF-controlled matches, both teams will receive bonuses of $18,000 per player for wins against teams in the top 25 of the FIFA World Rankings, scaling down to $12,000 and $8,000 for draws and losses, respectively. For matches against teams outside the top 25, the respective payouts stand at $13,000, $10,000, and $8,000. Players will also receive $10,000 bonuses for World Cup appearances, with an extra $14,000 added for a win and $10,000 for a draw.