Entertainment & Sports Law

US women's soccer players will earn the same as men, thanks to a lawsuit and an unusual pooling deal

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US women's soccer team

The U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team celebrates its victory during the FIFA Women’s World Cup in July 2019. Photos from Shutterstock and by Alessandra Tarantino/The Associated Press.

The U.S. Soccer Federation will pay male and female players the same as a result of unique collective bargaining agreements announced Wednesday.

The agreements, which run through 2028, will be the first to equalize uneven World Cup prize money paid to women’s and men’s teams by pooling of compensation, report the New York Times, the Associated Press and a press release. The money will then be evenly shared with both teams.

US Women's soccer team lifting the World Cup trophy Related article from ABA Journal: “How I helped win an equal pay victory for the US Women’s National Soccer Team”

The New York Times described the pooling agreement as “a notable concession by the American men” that removed “the single biggest obstacle to a resolution of the equal pay debate.” The World Cup prize money for women’s teams is a fraction of the amount paid to the men by FIFA, the sport’s governing body.

The deals follow a $24 million settlement of an equal pay lawsuit in February that couldn’t be finalized until new labor contracts were approved.

The gender bias suit noted that female players are paid less than those on the men’s team, even though they have a better winning record.

Under the new contracts, the average annual pay for a player making all rosters in 2023 through 2028 will be $450,000, not counting World Cup money.

The lead appellate counsel for the women’s team, Nicole A. Saharsky of Mayer Brown, wrote about the group effort that led to the settlement in an article for the ABA Journal.

The landmark settlement “sets an important precedent for equal pay,” Saharsky said. “I am hopeful that this case will inspire others across the nation and the world to continue to fight for equality.”

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