U.S. Women’s Soccer Team Earns Higher Pay, More Support With New Five-Year Labor Deal
The United States women’s national soccer team and its governing federation, U.S. Soccer, have agreed to a new five-year collective bargaining agreement, improving the female players’ pay and other standards for the squad.
U.S. Women’s Soccer Team Reaches New Five-Year Labor Deal with U.S. Soccer
The move comes more than a year after a series of arguments between U.S. Soccer and the women’s team over their low wages and support compared to their male counterparts.
The deal was ratified in Dallas on Tuesday night by the federation’s board in a conference call. The agreement includes a substantial increase in base pay and higher game bonuses for the women’s team. With these changes, female players could see their annual incomes double to between $200,000 and $300,000, approximately, and possibly even more in World Cup years.
The re-negotiated agreement also makes changes to non-financial provisions like travel, accommodations and working conditions, as well as greater financial support for players who are pregnant and for players adopting a child.
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The union also gained control of some licensing and marketing rights from U.S. Soccer, another possible source of revenue for the players.
The federation and the union, the U.S. Women’s National Team Players Association, announced the deal, which runs through Dec. 31, 2021, in a joint statement Wednesday morning. The U.S. women, who next face Russia in an international friendly game on Thursday night in Texas and then again in another friendly in Houston on Sunday, and then Norway in another friendly match in the Scandinavian country on June 11, last lost to both England and France in home games in March.
The next two tournaments the U.S. women will participate in are the 2019 World Cup and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The women’s new deal, however, does not grant them equal pay relative to male players, which was the female players’ union’s main goal last year in their fight for higher wages.
“We tried to completely change the methodology for how to define our value, and we made progress in that regard, and it changes the equation for the future,” said Becca Roux, the union’s executive director.
The heated equal pay debate led to a lawsuit filed by U.S. Soccer against the women’s players’ union to enforce the old collective bargaining agreement. However, five stars of the U.S. women’s team, including Alex Morgan and goalkeeper Hope Solo, countered with their own federal wage-discrimination complaint that is ongoing with the new CBA now ratified. The American women gained much support from other major sports teams, individual athletes and celebrities — including Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who tweeted her support in March 2016 during her campaign. The U.S. women also cited the fact that their successful record in World Cups and other international competitions was far superior to that of the men’s team as an argument to gain higher pay.
The U.S. women’s team won the 2015 World Cup in Vancouver and drew record-high TV ratings for the final of that tournament.
After the union’s negotiators and U.S. Soccer began barely communicating last year, and the team’s old CBA neared its expiration date, the U.S. women’s players fired their lawyer and restructured the union’s leadership. The women’s players’ main objective was for them to become more involved in the negotiations.
In a phone interview on Wednesday morning, U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati stated the changes in leadership and tone are much of what helped create the new agreement. “I think we realized in relatively short order there was a path to getting a deal done,” he said.
“We believe this is another important step to continue our long-standing efforts to drive the growth of women’s soccer in the United States,” Gulati added. “This agreement helps to ensure the strength of the women’s national team, provide stability and growth potential for the National Women’s Soccer League, and over time strengthen the elite player development process at the grass-roots level. We believe our continued partnership will ensure a bright future for our sport for years to come.”
The new deal also includes commitments from U.S. Soccer for its ongoing support of the national professional league, the NWSL, in addition to requirements that the federation improve standards in the league in everything from stadiums to facilities — through large increases in camp and roster bonuses for players not under contract with U.S. Soccer. Most of the women’s national team players also play in the NWSL, which will kick off its fifth season April 15-16.. The agreement also helps the U.S. women’s national team players pursue opportunities abroad, like Carli Lloyd and Crystal Dunn, who have recently signed with English teams Manchester City and Chelsea, respectively, and Alex Morgan, who is joining France’s Olympique Lyonnais club.
“I am incredibly proud of this team and the commitment we have shown through this entire process,” said midfielder Megan Rapinoe, a member of the union’s C.B.A. committee, in a statement provided by the union. “While I think there is still much progress to be made for us and for women more broadly, I think the W.N.T.P.A. should be very proud of this deal and feel empowered moving forward.”
The new deal comes just one week after the U.S. women’s hockey team reached a four-year agreement with U.S. Hockey to end a wage dispute and end a boycott of the women’s World Championship.
VANCOUVER, BC – JULY 05: Christie Rampone #3 of the United States of America holds the World Cup Trophy after their 5-2 win over Japan in the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015 Final at BC Place Stadium on July 5, 2015 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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