U.S. Soccer Teams Haven't Agreed to New Pay Structure, Negotiations Ongoing

The U.S. men's and women's national soccer teams have not yet settled on following a single pay structure, a change the U.S. Soccer Federation proposed in September in the wake of the March 2019 lawsuit from women's team players.

The suit alleged that players on the women's team had not been paid equitably under its collective bargaining agreement (CBA), which ran through December 2021, in comparison to what the men's team was paid under its CBA that expired in December 2018.

The two unions for the men's and women's teams are not required to reach similar collective bargaining agreements under federal law. But the federation offered identical contract proposals in September "with the goal of aligning both teams under a single collective bargaining agreement (CBA) structure," federation President Cindy Parlow Cone wrote in a letter Tuesday.

"While we haven't received a commitment from either union to move forward with a single pay structure, we have been encouraged that they are willing to join us in discussions about that possibility as we continue to negotiate separate CBAs with each for now," according to the letter.

"Additionally, we are still focused on taking the important step of equalizing FIFA World Cup prize money, and will not agree to any collective bargaining agreement that does not include that commitment from the two unions," it added.

The federation met jointly with the two unions in November and said that it had agreed to extend the CBA negotiation window until the end of March this year.

"We believe this development reflects our collective ability to work together and the urgency of both sides to reach a new agreement," the letter read.

USWNT
The U.S. men’s and women’s national soccer teams have not yet settled on following a single pay structure, a change the U.S. Soccer Federation proposed in September in the wake of the March 2019 lawsuit from women’s team players. Ashley Hatch #7 of the United States celebrates her goal with Margaret Purce #11 during a game between Australia and USWNT at McDonald Jones Stadium on November 30, 2021 in Newcastle, Australia. Brad Smith/ISI Photos/Getty Images

Becca Roux, executive director of the U.S. Women's National Team Players Association, and Mark Levinstein, acting executive director and general counsel of the U.S. National Soccer Team Players Association, did not respond to emails seeking comment.

Parlow Cone, a former national team player, became USSF president in March 2020 when Carlos Cordeiro quit amid a backlash to the group's lawyers filing legal papers claiming the women's national team players had less physical ability and responsibility than their male counterparts.

Cordeiro announced last week he is running to regain the job from Parlow Cone when the USSF's national council meets in Atlanta on March 5.

Women's team players sued the federation in March 2019 claiming they had not been paid equitably under the collective bargaining agreement that ran through December 2021, compared to what the men's team receives under its agreement that expired in December 2018.

U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner granted a summary judgment to the federation on the pay claim and the sides settled the portion of the suit alleging discriminatory working conditions.

Players have appealed the wage decision, and oral arguments are scheduled before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on March 7.

"U.S. Soccer remains committed to resolving this case outside of court for the long-term benefit of the sport at all levels," Parlow Cone wrote. "We would happily agree to settle so that we can focus on working together to chart a more positive and collaborative path forward."

FIFA awarded $400 million in prize money for the 32 teams at the 2018 men's World Cup, including $38 million to champion France. It awarded $30 million for the 24 teams at the 2019 Women's World Cup, including $4 million to the U.S. after the Americans won their second straight title.

FIFA has increased the total to $440 million for the 2022 men's World Cup, and its president, Gianni Infantino, has proposed FIFA double the women's prize money to $60 million for the 2023 Women's World Cup, in which FIFA has increased the teams to 32.

The women's collective bargaining agreement expires March 31 as part of the three-month extension. The men's agreement expired in December 2018.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

USMNT
The two unions for the men's and women's national soccer teams are not required to reach similar collective bargaining agreements under federal law, but the U.S. Soccer Federation offered identical contract proposals in September. USMNT players are seen during a game between Bosnia and Herzegovina and USMNT at Dignity Health Sports Park on December 18, 2021 in Carson, California. John Todd/ISI Photos/Getty Images