US men’s and women’s soccer teams now get equal pay: NPR

The US Football Association said it has reached an agreement with its men’s and women’s national teams to pay them the same amounts for all games and competitions and to split prize money from World Cup appearances.



LEILA FADEL, HOST:

Equal pay is now a reality for the best women footballers in this country. In a historic announcement today, the US Football Association said it has reached an agreement with its men’s and women’s national teams to pay them the same amounts for all games and competitions. Perhaps most importantly, they split the prize money from World Cup appearances equally. I’m now joined by NPR’s sports correspondent Tom Goldman. good morning tom

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: Hello, Leila.

GOLDMAN: Well, Tom, equal pay — that’s been a rallying cry for the women’s national team in recent years, a side that’s been so successful. How did this finally come about?

GOLDMAN: Well, according to US Soccer President Cindy Parlow Cone, this came after a lot of hard work and collaboration and a give and take from the men’s and women’s national teams. And it came after an often bitter process marred by years of litigation and sometimes bad words between the Football Association and its esteemed female athletes, who have done so much to put U.S. football on the global soccer map with multiple World Cup titles. Well, some of the key components of this agreement – identical performance fees and bonuses for men and women for all games and competitions, a 50:50 split of broadcast apparel, sponsorship and ticketing revenue, and equal hotel accommodation and charter air travel, and equal venues and pitch surfaces. This is important because women often complain, and rightly so, that they have to play on a smaller pitch, which sometimes increases the risk of injury.

FADEL: And I suppose an important part of this historic deal is equal World Championship compensation.

GOLDMAN: Oh yes. This is huge and is said to be the first of its kind for any football association in the world. The men’s and women’s teams will pool and share the World Cup prize money. Unequal pay has long been a sticking point in women’s quest for equal pay. FIFA, the international football governing body, paid the 24 women’s teams significantly less money than the 32 men’s teams at the World Cup. The teams at the 2019 Women’s World Cup had a combined prize pool of $30 million. The men will split 450 million at this year’s World Cup in Qatar.

FADEL: Wow.

GOLDMAN: US Soccer always says – it has said its hands are tied because it cannot control how FIFA pays out this huge imbalance of money. And the discrepancy, Leila, was compounded by the fact that US women won the world championships in 2015 and 2019, while US men didn’t even qualify in 2018. So the US Soccer Federation and its men’s and women’s teams solved this with a Big Concession from the men to pool and share the World Cup prize money with the women. The men’s team’s Walker Zimmerman and a member of the players’ union said it wasn’t always easy to convince his teammates, but they recognized that sharing this unilateral revenue was the only way to fulfill the agreement.

FADEL: But like you said, women’s soccer in the US put US soccer on the world map. So could there be domino effects, ramifications beyond US soccer?

GOLDMAN: You know, you’d like to believe that. It will not be easy. Some women’s teams in other countries have tried to push for more equal pay, but the injustices at the World Cup have prevented these men’s and women’s teams from achieving that kind of equality. But today’s announcement, the manner in which the agreement was reached, will surely be noted throughout the sporting world and will be beneficial for US soccer in particular. With women no longer having to fight for what they always thought was right and just, football in general can only benefit from moving forward with its best players happier and now with an incentive to develop the game even further.

FADEL: NPR’s sports correspondent Tom Goldman. Thank you Tom

GOLDMAN: You’re welcome.

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