US Soccer says it has offered the women’s national team pay equal to their male counterparts for matches under its control, but maintains the women’s union wants bonuses for tournaments such as the World Cup to match those of the men.
“Since extending this offer, we have made multiple attempts to meet with the WNT to discuss these new options,” the US Soccer president, Carlos Cordeiro, wrote in a statement on Saturday. “So far, they have repeatedly declined our invitation to meet on the premise that our proposal does not include US Soccer agreeing to make up the difference in future prize money awarded by Fifa for the men’s and women’s World Cups.”
Players on the USWNT are seeking more than $66m in damages as part of their gender discrimination lawsuit against US Soccer. The trial is scheduled to start in May.
“The USSF letter is riddled with falsehoods and issued on the eve of the SheBelieves game, which demonstrates that it is more important to USSF to diminish the women’s team than it is to support them on the field,” the players’ spokeswoman, Molly Levinson, said in a statement. “USSF did not and has never offered equal pay to the women players.”
Fifa awarded $400m in prize money for the 2018 men’s World Cup, including $38m to the champions, France, and $30m for last year’s women’s World Cup, including $4m to the US after the Americans won their second straight title. Fifa has increased the total to $440m for the 2022 men’s World Cup and Fifa president Gianni Infantino has proposed the body doubles the women’s prize money to $60m for 2023. Fifa pays bonuses to national federations, with each governing body making a deal with its own players.
Cordeiro said the USSF also had responsibility to invest in youth national teams and other programs, such as player, coach and referee development.
“There is indeed a significant difference in World Cup prize money awarded by Fifa to the men’s and women’s championship teams,” Cordeiro wrote. “However, it is not reasonable or fiscally sound for US Soccer to make up the gap. It would seriously impair our ability to support our mission and invest in these other critical developmental areas.”
The women have a labor contract covering 2017-21. The deal for the men expired at the end of 2018.
The USSF has pointed out that women’s national team players have benefits the men do not, including guaranteed annual salaries, medical and dental insurance, child-care assistance, and pregnancy and parental leave.