The unions of the US men’s and women’s national soccer teams have ratified new collective agreements with US Soccer that include an equal split of World Cup bonuses, the federation and the two unions announced on Wednesday.
The two CBAs take effect June 1 and will remain in effect until the end of 2028. The US National Soccer Team Players Association (USNSTPA), which represented the men’s players, has operated without a CBA since late 2018. The deal for the US Women’s National Team Players Association (USWNTPA) expired in late 2021 but was extended.
The agreements are a promise by US Soccer Association President Cindy Parlow Cone, who has vowed new CBAs must address the issue of equal pay for World Cup bonuses. The CBAs also ratified the much-celebrated financial settlement between the USWNT and the federation, announced in February after years of legal tribulations.
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“I’ve said it for a long time. I wanted to take the lead. I wanted US Soccer to take the lead,” Cone told ESPN via video call. “But we couldn’t do it alone. We needed both men’s and men’s players [union] and the players and the women [union] get together in a room to negotiate a contract.
“And I’ll be honest, there were days I didn’t think we were going to get it over the line. But we’re here, and I’m just so incredibly proud of what we’ve accomplished and what it’s bringing not just to the game here in the US, but around the world.”
The deals change the dynamic between the two teams. Previously, they competed for USSF attention and resources. Now they are working together to help both unions.
“I’m very excited to start this partnership almost afresh, a clean slate. We’re working together,” said Walker Zimmerman, fullback for Nashville SC, a member of the USNSTPA leadership team. “We have accomplished so much together with this revolutionary CBA and we certainly have [going to] Cheer like crazy because that’s what this CBA is. It is equal to. We will be their biggest fans. I’m sure they will also be our biggest fans.”
Women’s national team forward Midge Purce, a member of the union’s CBA committee, added: “I think what this CBA does is finally create ‘one nation, one team’. And I think it really brought us together under this ideology that we’ve been chasing for a very long time.”
The respective unions will receive 90% of the FIFA bonuses paid out in the 2022 and 2023 World Cups and 80% of the bonuses in the 2026 and 2027 editions. All funds paid out from these bonus pools will be divided equally between the two national teams. FIFA has announced that the total bonus pool for Qatar 2022 World Cup will be $400 million, while bonuses for Australia 2023 women’s tournament will be $60 million. In the past World Cup cycle, the last-placed men’s team won more prize money than the first-placed women’s team.
“There are tough conversations, but at the end of the day, it’s the right thing to do,” Zimmerman said. “That is something [the U.S. women’s team players] to earn. It’s something they fought so hard for and to be honest sometimes it feels like we just got along alongside them and a little late.
“It’s not easy to look back and think about this whole journey and think about where it started for her and how we entered. And that’s why it’s all the more important for us to feel that we’re committed. It’s never too late to get involved.”
The new collective agreements also achieve equality in other areas. The men’s and women’s teams receive identical performance-related bonuses for games and competitions. The women’s team will no longer have guaranteed salaries for some players and will have the same pay-to-play payment structure that the men’s team has always had.
Both unions will also participate in revenue sharing, including 10% of commercial revenue between $55 million and $75 million and 15% of all commercial revenue above $75 million. Both teams will also receive an equal share of ticket revenue, with teams receiving $5.06 from every ticket sold through the end of 2026 and $5.75 from every ticket in the last two years of the contract.
For matches controlled by the USSF – namely friendlies – players will be paid $18,000 for a win, $12,000 for a tie and $8,000 for a loss if the opponent is in the top 25 of FIFA ranking is up. For all other opponents, the amounts are $13,000 for a win, $10,000 for a tie and $8,000 for a loss. For World Championship matches, each player receives a match bonus of $10,000 plus an additional $14,000 for a win or $10,000 for a tie.
A source with knowledge of the men’s deal told ESPN that the men’s players will receive a $2.5 million bonus related to qualifying for the 2022 World Cup, which will not be shared with the women’s team. This is essentially retroactive pay due to the fact that the men had been operating under their old, expired contract for more than three years.
There are also aspects of the women’s contract that are unique compared to the men’s contract, including continued injury protection, child care and parental leave. But for women, the new CBA represents a big shift, moving away from guaranteed salaries and towards a pay-for-play model that has long been a staple of the men’s deal.
“The ability to do so owes much to the strength that the NWSL has gained over the past few years,” Purce said. “We have a strong enough league here at home where we can rely a little more on those salaries and give the national team a little more risk. And I think that really helped reduce that risk.”
In February, a settlement was announced in the women’s team’s equal pay lawsuit, in which the USSF agreed to pay the players $22 million, with an additional $2 million going to a fund dedicated to the players’ efforts their playing career could be used. That deal was contingent on agreeing a new CBA with the women that would include a solution to World Cup bonuses. Now that this goal has been achieved, the reckoning can be completed.