US soccer is setting an example for equal pay in sports around the world.
The United States Soccer Federation, the United States Women’s National Team Players Association, and the National Soccer Team Players Association announced a landmark agreement on Wednesday that will guarantee national soccer teams equal pay and prize money, including at World Cups.
The agreement following a public six-year battle on equal pay is the first of its kind, according to the New York Times.
The new pay structures are the result of collective bargaining agreements with each team after a group of top women’s team players settled a gender discrimination lawsuit against US Soccer in February. The payments to the US men’s and women’s teams will still not be entirely equal, however. Injuries, coaching decisions, and the number of games played by each team will affect each player’s earnings.
The deals also include a provision that makes the US the first country to allow teams to pool the unequal payments they receive from FIFA for participating in the World Cup. The American men previously received most of the multimillion-dollar payments US Soccer receives from FIFA every time the team played the World Cup. The new deals run through 2028 and cover the next four World Cups, and say that 90% of both US teams’ World Cup winnings will be pooled and split among the players. The teams will share the money equally during the 2022 men’s tournament and the 2023 Women’s World Cup.
The new agreement also addresses child care, parental leave, short-term disability, mental health impairment, travel, and equal quality of venues and field playing surfaces.
"This is a truly historic moment," US Soccer President Cindy Parlow Cone said in a statement.
"These agreements have changed the game forever here in the United States and have the potential to change the game around the world."
Some other countries such as Norway, Australia, and the Netherlands have introduced equal pay among men's and women’s teams but have not agreed to split World Cup winnings.
The agreement comes after top players filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2016, and USWNT filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against US Soccer in 2019.
Professional sports is only one sector impacted by the global wage gap that prevents women from receiving the same opportunities to support themselves and their families. Women earn 82% of what men earn in the US, according to a Pew Research Center analysis.
“I feel a lot of pride that there are going to be girls who are going to grow up and see what we’ve accomplished and recognize their value instead of having to fight to see it themselves,” Midge Purce, a member of the collective bargaining committee for the women’s players’ association said.