USWNT: A new CBA and an equal pay fight
The USWNT and USMNT are currently negotiating new CBAs as well, with the men's already expired and the women's expiring on Dec. 31.
State of play: The U.S. Soccer Federation announced in September that it had offered both teams the same proposal in an effort to align them under a single CBA. Complicating things is that the men and women have long had different priorities.
- The men earn most of their money from club soccer, so their most recent CBA focused on higher match fees and bonuses (aka "pay-to-play").
- The women — who earn far less as pros — desire more financial security, so their current CBA has higher guaranteed salaries and more benefits.
Between the lines: While U.S. Soccer can decide how money is funneled to its national teams, it has no control over the elephant in the room: FIFA's World Cup prize money, which differs drastically for men and women.
- France's soccer federation was paid $38 million from a $400 million prize pool after its men's team won the 2018 World Cup.
- A year later, U.S. Soccer was paid $4 million from a $30 million pot after the USWNT won the Women's World Cup.
The backdrop: In addition to World Cup prize money, the USWNT's equal pay lawsuit also hangs over negotiations.
- Players sued U.S. Soccer in March 2019, contending they had not been paid equitably compared to the men, and asking for more than $64 million in damages.
- A federal judge threw out the pay claim in May 2020, ruling the women rejected a pay-to-play structure similar to the men's in favor of the one they received (higher base salaries, etc.).
- U.S. Soccer claims the women were actually paid more than the men from 2010-18. Of course, that's because the women won two World Cups, while the men won one game in 2014 and missed 2018 entirely.
What's next: The USWNT players have appealed the decision, and a three-judge panel is likely to hear oral arguments in the coming months.
The bottom line: U.S. Soccer is negotiating its future, while battling in court over its past.
This story is part of a special report on the state of U.S. women's soccer. It appeared first in Axios Sports. (Sign up here.)
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