After many drawn-out years of fights, setbacks, and settlements, this is a bit of a “pinch me so I know it’s real” kind of moment.
The USWNT has paved the way for what should be a monumental shift in the sports world, or for that matter, the business world as a whole.
Though a number of other countries have made a push towards equal pay, none have achieved it on quite the same scale as the USWNT.
Rather than fixed salaries, the USWNT will now operate on a pay-to-play structure like the men, where they’ll earn money for roster appearances, wins, draws, etc.
Perhaps the most notable change in the new collective bargaining agreement with the US Soccer Federation is the promise to pool the USWNT and USMNT’s FIFA World Cup bonuses and divide them equally.
For reference, the winners of the Men’s 2018 World Cup earned $38 million in bonus money. In contrast, as winners of the 2019 Women’s World Cup, the USWNT earned $4 million. The discrepancy in pay is laughable.
USWNT and USMNT become unified force
Persistence, drive, stamina, passion … qualities that have led to a history of success on the field, have now led the USWNT to victory in their fight for equal pay. But this exact outcome could not have been accomplished without a shared vision and a certain level of compromise from the USMNT.
When it comes to World Cup bonuses, asking for equal pay is a tough sell. FIFA determines the pay structure and as long as they won’t budge, in theory, there’s not a lot to be done, particularly because the USSF doesn’t have the funds to cover the pay gap on its own.
By pooling the bonuses and dividing them equally among the two team’s players, the USMNT has agreed to pay cuts. They’re giving up valuable money that FIFA has told them they’ve earned.
On paper, the USMNT stands nothing to gain. But fortunately for all involved, they understand the inequities in the former pay structure and are driven by morals rather than paychecks (though I imagine they’ll still cringe when they get a glimpse of that first World Cup check).
Other countries look to the USWNT as an example of a thriving, progressive organization both on the field and off. The USWNT has given other women’s national teams across the globe the spark they need to fight for what they deserve.
The support of the USMNT is a nudge to other men’s national teams that the fight shouldn’t fall on the shoulders of the women alone.
Sure the fight isn’t over, but USWNT players can take a deep breath and smile in the knowledge that today, the world was changed for the better. And they made it happen.