USA’s World Cup win over Iran on Tuesday paid dividends for both the men’s and women’s national teams.
The US men are guaranteed $13m in prize money for reaching the last 16 in Qatar. That will be shared equally between the men’s and women’s teams under the equal pay agreement struck between US Soccer and the USWNT Players’ Association earlier this year (10% of the money will go to the US Soccer Federation). For context, the $6.5m coming to the women’s team is more than they won in total for their last two World Cup victories. The USWNT earned $4m for winning the 2019 World Cup and $2m for their title in 2015.
The prize money for the 2023 Women’s World Cup has not yet been set, although Fifa president Gianni Infantino has said he wants to “at least double” the pot from 2019. However, even if the prize money doubles to $60m, it would still be dwarfed by the $440m handed out to men’s teams in Qatar. Under this year’s agreement the US men will get 50% of the US women’s prize money in 2023.
World Cup prize money was not the only area where equal deals were reached in the US teams’ agreement, which was ratified in May and formally signed in September. Shares of ticket sales will now be equal, as will win bonuses. Some aspects of income and benefits will differ between the teams. The men did not share their $2.5m bonus for qualifying for this year’s World Cup as it was part of the their previous CBA.
Walker Zimmerman, who is part of the US squad in Qatar and a member of the US men’s players’ union, said in May that he was happy with the deal.
“There are tough conversations, but at the end of the day, it is the right thing to do,” Zimmerman said. “It’s something that [the US women’s team players] deserve. It’s something that they have fought for so hard, and, to be honest, sometimes it does feel like we had just kind of come alongside of them and had been a little late.”
Becky Sauerbrunn, the USWNT players’ association president, said in May that the agreement would ensure success for the team in the future. “We hope that this agreement and its historic achievements in not only providing for equal pay but also in improving the training and playing environment for national team players will similarly serve as the foundation for continued growth of women’s soccer both in the United States and abroad.”
The US women’s team has long fought for equal treatment with the men’s team. In December 2020 they reached an agreement with US Soccer over equal work conditions with their male counterparts. The players were granted the same conditions as the US men’s team in areas such as travel, hotel accommodation, the right to play on grass rather than artificial turf, and staffing. Then, in February, the team agreed a $24m settlement that ended a six-year legal battle over equal pay.
The teams will be guaranteed $17m if the US beat the Netherlands on Saturday to reach the quarter-finals. In the unlikely event the US win the title in Qatar they will earn $42m. They US women shouldn’t hold their breath though – their male counterparts are 90-1 with most bookmakers to lift the trophy.