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Representatives of the U.S. men’s and women’s national teams signed historic collective bargaining agreements with US Soccer on Tuesday, officially ending a long and sometimes acrimonious battle over equal pay.
The federation announced in May that it had reached separate agreements with players’ unions on contracts that run until 2028.
The new contracts include identical compensation structures for tournament appearances and victories, revenue sharing and fair distribution of World Cup prize money.
A signing ceremony took place after the women’s friendly against Nigeria at Audi Field in Washington, with Labor Secretary Marty Walsh among those in attendance.
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“I have to give a lot of credit to everyone involved, the women’s national team and their PA (players’ association), the men’s national team and their PA, and everyone at US Soccer. There were so many people who helped, who worked together to make it happen,” said U.S. Football President Cindy Parlow Cone, herself a former national team player. “And he wouldn’t be pushed over the line without let the men step in and be on board with equal pay.”
After years of fighting for fair pay and treatment, American women filed a federal sex discrimination lawsuit against US Soccer in 2019. The lawsuit drew international attention, prompting fans to chant “Equal Pay” when the United States won the Women’s World Cup final in France.
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In February, the two sides settled the lawsuit, with US Soccer agreeing to pay the women $24 million. But the settlement depended on reaching new working agreements with the two teams.
The men were playing under the terms of a CBA which expired in December 2018. The women’s CBA expired at the end of March, but talks continued after the lawsuit was settled.
The sticking point in the negotiations was the World Cup prize money, which is based on a team’s progress through football’s most prestigious tournament. While American women have succeeded on the international stage with back-to-back World Cup titles, differences in FIFA prize money mean they have won significantly less than male winners. The Americans received a $110,000 bounty for winning the 2019 World Cup; the American men would have received $407,000 had they won in 2018.
The unions have agreed to pool FIFA payments for the Men’s World Cup later this year and the Women’s World Cup next year, as well as the 2026 and 2027 tournaments.
Since the men’s national team players are currently playing in the league, the CBA was signed by USNSTPA Executive Director Mark Levinstein. Players Crystal Dunn, Becky Sauerbrunn and Sam Mewis have also signed, along with USWNTPA executive director Becca Roux.
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Sauerbrunn addressed the crowd.
“I want to thank you all for the support, all the social media posts, the messages of support, the chants of ‘Equal Pay’ at really fun times, showing up at our games. You make the difference, and you guys are really, really the best fans in the world,” she said.
Former players Kristine Lilly, Briana Scurry and Lori Lindsey also attended the on-pitch ceremony after the USA beat Nigeria 2-1.
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With the labor agreements having been accepted, a federal judge in August gave preliminary approval of the settlement. A hearing to finalize it is scheduled for December.