After more than a year of often-contentious contract negotiations, dueling lawsuits, and a widening rift over equal pay, the U.S. women’s national team and U.S. Soccer have reached a new five-year collective bargaining agreement that will increase player salaries, guarantee better travel and working conditions, and ensure U.S. Soccer’s support of the National Women’s Soccer League.
According to the New York Times, the deal includes a “sizable increase in base pay and improved match bonuses for the women’s team, changes that could see some players double their incomes to between $200,000 and $300,000 in a given year — and even more in a World Cup year.”
The agreement also has “enhanced ‘lifestyle’ benefits for the players with respect to travel and hotels, per diems that are equal to those of the men’s team; and greater financial support for players who are pregnant and players adopting a child,” per Sports Illustrated.
The agreement, which was ratified Tuesday night, is undoubtedly progress for the USWNT, but it fell short of granting the players pay equal to the men’s national team players, a central and controversial demand that was at the heart of wage discrimination complaint filed by five USWNT members last year.
U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati released a statement praising the deal.
Becca Roux, the players’ union interim executive director who replaced former union head Rich Nichols after he was fired late last year, was more measured. “We tried to completely change the methodology for how to define our value, and we made progress in that regard, and it changes the equation for the future,” she told the Times.
The agreement comes less than two weeks before the start of the NWSL season. It runs through 2021, and will cover the 2019 World Cup and 2020 Olympics.