Facing mounting public pressure in a fight over equitable pay, U.S. Soccer said Monday the World Cup champion women’s national team had been paid more than the men’s team for years.
According to a letter released Monday by Carlos Cordeiro, president of U.S. Soccer, the federation paid out $34.1 million in salary and game bonuses to the women between 2010 and 2018 as opposed to $26.4 million paid to the men. The total does not include the value of benefits received only by the women, like healthcare.
The federation released the figures as it moved toward mediating a federal lawsuit in which players for the women’s team accused U.S. Soccer of “institutionalized gender discrimination,” including inequitable compensation when compared with players on the men’s team.
Comparing compensation between the two teams is difficult because the pay structure is based on different collective bargaining agreements. For example, players for the women’s team have a base salary while the men are paid primarily based on matches and performance.
Molly Levinson, a spokeswoman for the players in matters involving the lawsuit, called the letter “a sad attempt by USSF to quell the overwhelming tide of support the USWNT has received from everyone from fans to sponsors to the United States Congress.”
Levinson said in a statement: “The USSF fact sheet is not a ‘clarification.’ It is a ruse. Here is what they cannot deny. For every game a man plays on the MNT he makes a higher base salary payment than a woman on the WNT. For every comparable win or tie, his bonus is higher. That is the very definition of gender discrimination. For the USSF to believe otherwise, is disheartening but it only increases our determination to obtain true equal pay.”
Cordeiro said the federation recently conducted an extensive analysis of its finances over the last 10 years, seeking to clear up what he called confusion based on the pay structures for both teams.
U.S. Soccer said it paid the women’s national team players a base salary of $100,000 per year, and an additional $67,500 to $72,500 per player as a salary for playing in the National Women’s Soccer League. The women also have healthcare benefits and a retirement plan.
Players on the men’s national team are paid by training camp call-ups, game appearances and through performance bonuses. The federation acknowledged the men had the ability to earn higher bonuses than the women. The men’s team did not make the field for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, while the women have won back-to-back World Cup titles.
The collective bargaining agreements are not made public, and U.S. Soccer did not provide details about the men’s bonus structure.
USSF also says the men’s team generates more revenue. The women’s team generated $101.3 million over the course of 238 games between 2009 and 2019 while the men generated $185.7 million over 191 games, according to the federation.
The analysis did not include prize money for tournaments like the World Cup, because those funds are determined by FIFA, soccer’s international governing body, and not U.S. Soccer.