U.S. Women's Soccer Team Victorious in Equal Pay Battle With 'Historic' New Agreement

After decades of pay inequality — and a six-year legal battle that ended with a settlement earlier this year — the U.S. Women’s National Team revealed Wednesday that they’ve entered in a new collective bargaining agreement that ensures they’ll be paid the same as the U.S. men’s soccer team.

For years, the USWNT has attempted to be paid the same as their male counterparts, and the new agreement with the United States Soccer Federation, which runs through 2028, makes sure both teams receive “equal pay through identical economic terms” through the upcoming World Cup and beyond. The CBA is also the first of its kind worldwide.

“This is a truly historic moment. These agreements have changed the game forever here in the United States and have the potential to change the game around the world,” U.S. Soccer President Cindy Parlow Cone said in a statement. 

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“U.S. Soccer and the USWNT and USMNT players have reset their relationship with these new agreements and are leading us forward to an incredibly exciting new phase of mutual growth and collaboration as we continue our mission to become the preeminent sport in the United States.”

USWNT Players Association President Becky Sauerbrunn — one of the players who filed the initial federal wage complaint lawsuit against the soccer federation over equal pay, which was ultimately settled in Feb. 2022 for $28 million — said in a statement, “We hope that this agreement and its historic achievements in not only providing for equal pay but also in improving the training and playing environment for National Team players will similarly serve as the foundation for continued growth of women’s soccer both in the United States and abroad.”

Sauerbrunn added, “The gains we have been able to achieve are both because of the strong foundation laid by the generations of WNT players that came before the current team and through our union’s recent collaboration with our counterparts at the USNSTPA and leadership at U.S. Soccer.”

Despite the USWNT’s World Cup-winning success (they won the tournament four times, most recently in 2015 and 2019), the women’s team was paid significantly less than the USMNT, even though the men’s team hasn’t finished better than 8th place in nearly 30 years.

In the film LFG, which documentedthe lawsuit, two-time World Cup winner Megan Rapinoe said of the pay disparity, “It’s like Whac-A-Mole — it’s like whack-a-sexist, basically. Every time you get one, something else pops up. . . You have to prove that they did it, and then call them out on it, and then continue to police them, and that’s the exhausting part, I think. The continual policing and explaining why that’s not acceptable behavior and like, how we can move forward.”

Rapinoe tweeted Wednesday following news of the equal pay CBA, “Thank you to so many who have come before and who are here now. Incredibly proud today.”

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