The US Men’s National Team (USMNT) advanced to the Round of 16 at the Men’s World Cup yesterday with a win over Iran, and it’s not just the players on the field who are benefiting. Thanks to a new collective bargaining agreement between the USMNT and the US Women’s National Team (USWNT), the men’s and women’s teams will split the prize money earned by the men from this World Cup, including the $13 million they earn for qualifying for the next tournament. rounds — a first in international football.
That means the women can now take home nearly $6 million more for advancing to the next stage than the men. Incredibly, that’s more prize money than the USWNT’s take home the winner The last two women’s World Cups combined.
According to Power Plays, the USWNT earned $2 million for winning the Women’s World Cup in 2015 and $4 million in 2019. By comparison, after the victory over Iran, the men’s team will now earn at least $13 million, even if they lose their next game. If they win and advance to the next round, the prize money will increase to $17 million. After that, each round increases, with the men’s World Cup winners receiving $42 million.
The pay gap between the men’s and women’s World Cups is embarrassing in itself, and we’ll explore that in a minute. But first, let’s go back to that collective agreement. In May, the USWNT’s years-long fight for equal pay culminated in a new CBA signed by US Soccer and the men’s and women’s players’ associations. The agreement stipulated, among other things, that 90 percent of the World Cup prize money earned by both teams would be “pooled and shared equally” between the men’s and women’s teams, while U.S. Soccer would receive a 10 percent cut.
According to US Soccer, the federation is the first in the world to equalize World Cup prize money between men’s and women’s teams. “The agreements will ensure that U.S. Soccer’s Senior National Team players remain among the highest paid in the world,” U.S. Soccer said.
Under that agreement, the $13 million the USMNT has already earned will be split between the men’s and women’s teams, minus 10 percent going to USA Soccer. That comes to about $5.85 million per team.
If you’ve spent any time on the sports side of the internet, you probably won’t be shocked to hear some people get angry about this on behalf of the men’s team (which, again, willingly agrees to this CBA). For those of us who haven’t made it through the toxic comment sections ourselves, Goals, a sports consulting agency for women, collected some of the more disgusting shots in an Instagram post. “Getting paid for doing nothing. It’s pretty embarrassing,” said one, because winning four World Cups qualifies as “doing nothing”.
“It’s basically 2 completely different sports,” said another. “One has a lot of income and the other one has very little. It baffles me how they earn anything equally.” And my personal, jaded favorite: “There’s a reason the two achievements are incomparable… The skill, quality and ability of the women’s game is so low.”
Alex Morgan will probably turn all these tough guy commentators into nutmeg in 0.1 seconds, but that’s not the real issue here. As always, most internet trolls are unaware of how popular women’s sports are and how fast they are growing. Women’s football alone has shown steady growth in interest and viewership over the years. According to FIFA, the 2019 Women’s World Cup attracted a record 1.12 billion viewers on television, with 14.3 million U.S. viewers watching the final between the USWNT and the Netherlands. That’s up 22 percent from the 2018 men’s World Cup final (11.4 million U.S. viewers), according to Fox Sports via CNBC , as we’re comparing. That 2019 Women’s World Cup final was also the most-watched soccer game on English-language television – male or female! — from the 2015 Women’s World Cup final in the U.S. (oh, look it up) (25.4 million viewers).
And that’s just in the US. Globally, the patterns are similar. The women’s Euro 2022 tournament set a record with 365 million global aggregate live viewers, more than double the 178 million viewers in 2017, according to UEFA. The Guinness World Record for the most attendance at a women’s soccer match (set by the USWNT during the 1999 World Cup and held for 23 years) has been broken twice this year and is now held by FC Barcelona Femení and VfL Wolfsburg, who are tied. 91,648 for the April 22 game in Barcelona.
Here we go: The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) in the US broke regular season and playoff attendance records again this year. Alexis Ohanian (co-founder of Reddit, lead investor in NWSL club Angel City, husband of Serena Williams, father of Olympia, etc.) told SportsCenter in September that investing in women’s soccer was “the most obvious, best thing I could do. is a sports investment. .. so clearly underrated.” When we think of the excellence of American football, she said, “we think of women…when we think of soccer, the most popular sport in the world, it’s the women who carry the crown for us.”
To quote one of our commentators above, the “ability, quality and skill” of female footballers is enough to attract fans in droves. If there is no income, it is not because the sport is not popular – it is because women’s football, and women’s sport in general, is not taken seriously by the media and the organizations that operate under the teams. The NCAA’s absurd valuation of the women’s March Madness tournament is a case in point: according to a third-party review published last year, the NCAA valued the women’s tournament at about $6 million a year. The real value? Potentially upwards of $80 million.
In football, FIFA itself (hardly a bastion of equality) recently criticized TV contract proposals for the 2023 Women’s World Cup, with FIFA president Gianni Infantino saying some bids were “100 times less, and in some cases more than 100 times”. he said. According to the Associated Press, the value of the men’s World Cup rights deal. “We’re not going to accept that,” Infantino said, “because we know that in some of the big soccer countries, the viewing figures for these broadcasters for the men’s and women’s World Cups or the World Cup are actually very similar… their advertising means. The revenue for the men’s and women’s is very is similar”.
The USWNT deserves more than their World Cup success.
Female soccer players and fans both contribute to the development of the sport, but at a certain point, it falls to the organizations (FIFA, US Soccer) to force broadcasters and sponsors to give the players what they need. And that means those organizations themselves must recognize the value of money in women’s teams—the value of female athletes who, despite their success and popularity, are often stigmatized or simply overlooked.
This brings us back to the joint CBA for the US national teams, which was a clear step in the right direction and one that both teams were proud to sign. “They said equal pay for men and women wasn’t possible, but that didn’t stop us and we went ahead and got it,” USMNT defender Walker Zimmerman said, according to an article published by US Soccer. Zimmerman was among the leaders of the men’s team involved in the negotiations. “We hope this will awaken others to the need for such change and inspire FIFA and others around the world to move in the same direction.”
Because that’s the real issue. Internet trolls can justify low pay and low income to “low quality” female players. They may think they are standing for the men’s team, but these players have all joined the CBA. They have known since March that any prize money they win at this World Cup will be split with the women’s team, just as the women’s prize money will be split next year; “It’s a big deal for both teams,” Zimmerman emphasized in a June interview with the Football Americana podcast. “What a great opportunity to do something historic and be the first federation, [the] First, men and women should agree on equal salary.
No, the men’s team looks fine with that. In this case, the organization that the trolls are finally defending is FIFA, which according to Power Play can offer $60 million in total prize money at the next Women’s World Cup, compared to $440 million for the men’s World Cup. Yes, Infantino can point to unfair media rights deals — and broadcast corporations have a lot to answer for, too — but this is an organization expected to make $7 billion by the end of this four-year World Cup cycle, according to the AP. . It’s hard to imagine that FIFA couldn’t really pay the women’s teams an equal amount, or at least significantly more, than the prize money they get now. seven times less more than men.
Due to their performance and popularity, the USWNT deserve more than their World Cup success, but they cannot control what FIFA gives them. That’s why USA Soccer and the men’s and women’s teams have taken this step themselves through the CBA, which guarantees equal pay, not only to further level the playing field, but also to set an example for other national federations and, ultimately, FIFA itself.