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Not ‘Fake Equal Pay’: Soccer CBA Hailed as Game-Changer


May 18, 2022

The U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team is finally on equal footing with their male counterparts thanks to landmark new collective bargaining agreements announced Wednesday that experts say provide a framework for other similarly structured organizations to even out pay disparities.

The deals, which run through 2028, are critical to resolving a $24 million equal pay suit that the women and U.S. Soccer Federation had settled in February pending the approval of a new CBA.

Under the labor agreements, the teams will share FIFA World Cup prize money and collect equal appearance fees, game bonuses, and shares of commercial revenue — despite international governing body FIFA’s practice of awarding larger prizes in men’s contests.

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“I saw somebody comment on the men’s team being willing to share their FIFA bonus with the women, but you’ve got to acknowledge that, historically, the women have been doing particularly well,” Christine E. Webber, co-chair of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC’s civil rights and employment group, told Law360. “There are going to be some years where the women do so well — and the men don’t — that they will have bonus money they share with men, even though FIFA prize money is smaller for women.”

The U.S. men’s team has never won a World Cup in the contest’s more than 90 years. The women’s team has taken the title four times since their cup’s inception in 1991 — including the last two held in 2019 and 2015.

They stand a better chance of bringing home a big prize, while the men are at least guaranteed relatively sizable bonuses for qualifying this year and for hosting in 2026, Webber and Bank said.

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Regardless, the deals provide a blueprint for achieving equal pay at other federations that are organized like U.S. Soccer.

“It’s very exciting and unique as far as I’ve seen in sports,” Webber said. “It really sets a model for any other instance where we have a single national federation like national soccer that fields both men’s and women’s teams. The real remaining barrier is what FIFA itself is doing as an organization.”

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