The US Soccer Federation offered the women’s and men’s national teams identical contracts, a proposal that the United States Women’s National Team Players Association (USWNTPA) called “PR stunts.”
The sport’s national governing body made the offer to both teams in an attempt to resolve an ongoing dispute with the US Women’s national soccer team over equal pay.
“USSF’s PR stunts and bargaining through the media will not bring us any closer to a fair agreement,” the USWNTPA, which acts as a union for the players, said in a tweet on Wednesday.
“In contrast, we are committed to bargaining in good faith to achieve equal pay and the safest working conditions possible. The proposal that USSF made recently to us does neither,” it added.
The federation responded to the USWNTPA’s social media post soon after, tweeting, “An offer on paper of identical contracts to the USWNT and USMNT, and to discuss equalizing prize money, is real, authentic and in good faith. A publicity stunt is a 90-minute one-sided movie.”
A new proposal
In a statement on Tuesday, the federation said it “firmly believes that the best path forward for all involved, and for the future of the sport in the United States, is a single pay structure for both senior national teams.”
“This proposal will ensure that USWNT and USMNT players remain among the highest paid senior national team players in the world, while providing a revenue sharing structure that would allow all parties to begin anew and share collectively in the opportunity that combined investment in the future of U.S. Soccer will deliver over the course of a new CBA,” the statement said.
“Additionally, U.S. Soccer has once again called upon the players and both Players Associations to join the Federation in finding a way to equalize FIFA World Cup prize money between the USMNT and the USWNT. U.S. Soccer will not agree to any collective bargaining agreement that does not take the important step of equalizing FIFA World Cup prize money.”
FIFA gave out $30 million in prize money to the women’s players competing at the 2019 World Cup, while the men’s players received $400 million for the 2018 World Cup.
‘I think we’re moving in the right direction’
US soccer star Alex Morgan, who won the World Cup with her national team in 2019, said the USWNTPA “still need to chat about the statement given by US Soccer.”
“Any commitment to equal pay publicly is good. However, we need to look line by line at what they’re actually providing. If you have equal but it’s not even what we got before or to the value that we are then we still consider that not good enough. We will continue to work with US Soccer moving forward, looking towards equal and fair payment and treatment,” Morgan added, speaking ahead of USWNT’s friendly against Paraguay on Thursday.
She said that as the team’s collective bargaining agreement (CBA) ends at the end of the year, they are “in active negotiations right now.”
“We don’t want to start the new year without a new CBA in effect. That’s the No. 1 priority of our PA, of our legal team. Looking at the statements, it’s difficult to say. We want to feel encouraged, and we want to be optimistic. But we have seen a lot of statements before.
“What we really want to do is see what we can do at the negotiation table, to see those statements be put into action in those negotiations. Of course, we’re always hopeful. You have to continue to have hope. We’re seeing great things around the world, most recently with Ireland agreeing to equal pay for their female and male teams. I think we’re moving in the right direction.”
An ongoing dispute
The current back-and-forth between the women’s team and their governing body marks a continuation of a dispute dating back to March 2019, when the USWNT filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the US Soccer.
With 28 of the team’s players listed as plaintiffs, the USWNT’s claim that they were paid less than the men’s national team was rejected in May 2020 by federal judge Gary Klausner, who ruled that the women’s side played more matches and made more money than their male counterparts.
Following the decision, two-time World Cup-winning USWNT players Christen Press and Tobin Heath told CNN of their desire to continue the fight for equal pay, with Heath describing the stakes as “bigger than anything we could ever win in football”.
In July of this year, the USWNT filed an appeal against the May 2020 ruling, saying the decision “defies reality” and was “legally wrong”.
US Soccer tweeted a statement in response to the team’s appeal, saying the decision “correctly held that the Women’s National Team was paid more both cumulatively and on an average per-game basis than the Men’s National Team.”
As the USWNT continues to advocate for equal pay, women’s national soccer organizations elsewhere have seen promising developments.
The Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) announced that the women’s team would receive the same pay as the men’s side in September 2020, both in terms of daily rates and prize money.
Last month, the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) revealed that the senior men and women’s national teams would receive the same fees on international duty, with the men’s squad agreeing to a fee reduction in order to level the payments.
“This is a great day for Irish football,” Ireland Senior Women’s Team captain Katie McCabe said.
“We have taken a huge step forward with this deal and have shown the world what can be achieved through unity as we offer male and female international players the same opportunities.”
Men’s captain Seamus Coleman added: “On behalf of the Senior Men’s squad, I welcome this news today.
“We are delighted as players to do what we can to ensure that our female international players are treated equally and fairly and we remain fully committed to doing whatever we can to achieve that goal together.”