The USWNT wins another title, and finally reaps the rewards of its equal pay fight

·4 min read
United States' Alex Morgan lifts up THE trophy after winning the CONCACAF Women's Championship final soccer match against Canada in Monterrey, Mexico, Monday, July 18, 2022. (AP Photo/Roberto Martinez)
The U.S. women's national team won the CONCACAF Women's Championship with a 1-0 victory over Canada on Monday in Monterrey, Mexico. (AP Photo/Roberto Martinez)

The U.S. women's national team won its ninth regional championship on Monday — and, after years of fighting for equal pay, finally reaped the financial rewards.

The CONCACAF W Championship, which served as World Cup and Olympic qualifying, was the team's first tournament under a new collective bargaining agreement that could make the USWNT the best-paid national soccer team in the world.

Over five games, most U.S. players earned $120,000, plus $26,000 for two pre-tournament friendlies — in total, almost as much as they were paid for winning the 2019 World Cup under their previous CBA.

Under that 2017 deal, which became the subject of contentious litigation, a USWNT star would have earned $15,000 in game bonuses during the Women's Championship, plus $37,500 for World Cup qualification and $25,000 for Olympic qualification — for a total of $77,500.

Players then earned $147,500 each for winning the 2019 World Cup, and $25,000 for taking third at the Tokyo Olympics — on top of $100,000 annual salaries for most established players, or a few thousand dollars per game for "non-contract players."

The new CBA — which was ratified this spring, and which pays the U.S. women almost exactly on par with the U.S. men — moved away from base pay, but offers the women unprecedented per-game and World Cup bonuses.

If they were to win the 2023 World Cup, and if the men were to go the 2022 World Cup's round of 16, a USWNT player would stand to make $70,000 in game bonuses plus approximately $350,000 in World Cup prize money — because the USWNT and USMNT agreed, for the first time, to pool World Cup prize money and share equal 45% cuts. (The U.S. Soccer Federation gets the other 10%.)

An Olympic gold medal the following summer in Paris would yield another $112,000-$132,000 per player.

The aggregate maximum payout associated with qualifying and with both global tournaments will be somewhere in the region of $700,000 per player — twice as much as it would have been under the previous CBA.

That comparison doesn't include base salaries, but it also doesn't factor in significant upticks in per-game bonuses for friendlies, which will more than compensate for the lack of base pay in the 2022 CBA. Under the previous deal, a USWNT player would have earned $10,500 for two friendly victories over Colombia.

Friendly bonuses per player under the 2017-2021 USWNT CBA. (Source: Legal filings)
Friendly bonuses per player under the 2017-2021 USWNT CBA. (Source: Legal filings)

Under the current deal, each player earned $26,000 for two friendly victories over Colombia last month.

(U.S. Soccer Federation CBA fact sheet)
(U.S. Soccer Federation CBA fact sheet)

The new agreement, which runs through 2028, also grants both the men and the women equal shares of U.S. Soccer broadcast and commercial revenue, plus more than $5 per ticket sold at their home games.

In presenting the new CBA to players, USWNT Players Association leadership calculated that players could earn as much as $450,000 per year before World Cup prize money, and double that in a World Cup year. Factoring in base compensation under the old CBA, according to USWNTPA projections, the new CBA will represent a 40-90% pay bump for most friendlies, a 68% increase for World Cup qualification, and six-figure raises overall.

The CBAs also promise to pay players 70% of prize money for non-World Cup tournaments. If there are no equivalent competitions for the men and women, the money is not pooled and shared. The USWNT, therefore, would have earned 70% of any prize money associated with Monday's title. But a CONCACAF spokesman confirmed to Yahoo Sports on Monday that there is no prize money associated with the W Championship.

CONCACAF has paid $1 million to the winners of the Gold Cup, the biennial men's championship. The Women's Championship, for years, was the closest equivalent. (Men's World Cup qualifying is played out over several months in a double-round-robin format.)

But CONCACAF plans to start an actual equivalent, the W Gold Cup, in 2024. The CONCACAF spokesman said there will be prize money associated with that competition.

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