The U.S. men’s and women’s soccer teams announced a collective bargaining agreement on Wednesday, capping the USWNT’s years-long fight to for equal pay. Under the new contracts, which run until 2028, both the men’s and women’s teams will be compensated equally—including pooling the vast majority of any future World Cup prize money.
“I am feeling extreme pride. And to be able to say finally, equal pay for equal work feels very, very good,” team captain Becky Sauerbrunn told Today. Still, she added, “It’s tough to get so, so excited about something that we really should have had all along.”
In February, 30 USWNT athletes settled their lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation after a six-year-long legal battle. In addition to mandating equal pay going forward, the women won $22 million in back pay, along with $2 million for team retirement funds and charitable work.
The new agreement stipulates that 90 percent of both U.S. team’s World Cup winnings be pooled and split among the players. It’s a historic deal. While some other countries have instituted equality in base salary across its mens and women’s national teams, the US will be the first to agree to split World Cup winnings.
Over the years, the gulf between FIFA World Cup prize winnings for men’s and women’s teams has been vast. When France’s men’s team won in 2018, they took home $38 million. However, when the U.S. women won in 2019, their victory came with only $4 million. That’s over a million dollars less than the U.S. men’s team was awarded five years earlier simply for making it to the round of 16.
These glaring disparities have been made all the more stark by the difference between the U.S. men’s and women’s teams World Cup records: The USWNT has won the top prize four times since the first Women’s World Cup was held in 1991. Meanwhile, the USMNT’s best ever World Cup performance ended with a third place finish—all the way back in 1930.
“I feel a lot of pride for the girls who are going to see this growing up, and recognize their value rather than having to fight for it. However, my dad always told me that you don’t get rewarded for doing what you’re supposed to do—and paying men and women equally is what you’re supposed to do,” forward Margaret Purce said in an interview with the Associated Press published on Wednesday. “So I’m not giving out any gold stars, but I’m grateful for this accomplishment and for all the people who came together to make it so.”