It’s been a memorable year so far for U.S. Soccer fans.
The U.S. Men’s National Team is currently focused on World Cup qualifying matches for 2022 after capturing back-to-back titles this summer, winning the inaugural Concacaf Nations League trophy before collecting its seventh Gold Cup title, beating archrival Mexico in both finals. Meanwhile, the U.S. Women’s National Team won the Olympic Bronze medal in August and remains the undisputed No. 1 team in the world.
Our Women’s Beach National Team returned to action with matches in Russia, and our Men’s Beach National Team took part in the FIFA Beach World Cup, where they put in a great performance in all three of their matches and continue to make big strides forward. Finally, our Men’s Futsal National Team will begin their World Cup competition in Lithuania next week, and we’re wishing them all the best.
As our national teams continue to succeed on the field, we are working hard behind the scenes to chart a path forward in our collective bargaining agreements with the separate Players Associations of the USWNT and USMNT.
As a former player, I want to once again make it clear that I, along with all of U.S. Soccer, am 100 percent committed to equal pay for our national team players. We remain steadfast in our dedication to ensuring equal pay for our national teams.
We’re focused on demonstrating this commitment through action. As a federation, we would much rather negotiate a single collective bargaining agreement with both the men’s and women’s teams, but since neither team has agreed to take that approach, we are moving forward separately with each Players Association.
The massive discrepancy in FIFA World Cup prize money is by far the most challenging issue we continue to face in our parallel negotiations with the men’s and women’s national teams. While FIFA has made some impactful investments in the women’s game, the discrepancy in prize money remains stark. FIFA alone controls those funds, and U.S. Soccer is legally obligated to distribute those funds based on our current negotiated collective bargaining agreements with the men’s and women’s teams.
Within this challenge, we see an opportunity to create change. To capitalize on that opportunity, we need our men’s and women’s national teams to come together and re-think how we’ve done things in the past. To that end, we have invited the players and both Players Associations to join U.S. Soccer in negotiating a solution together that equalizes World Cup prize money between the USMNT and USWNT.
Finding a framework that works for everyone will require open and thoughtful conversations and sincere commitment from USMNT and USWNT players to come together. Until FIFA equalizes the prize money that it awards to the Men’s and Women’s World Cup participants, it is incumbent upon us to collectively find a solution.
U.S. Soccer is ready and willing to meet with both groups of players as soon as possible and as often as needed to determine that innovative solution. We hope our men’s and women’s national teams share our sense of urgency when it comes to doing whatever we can to resolve the prize money gap.
Coming to a resolution on the World Cup prize money will be key to our separate collective bargaining negotiations with the USMNT and USWNT. Our new leadership team has been meeting with the USMNT Players Association for the past year, and while there’s always going to be a spirited back and forth during the process, we’ve made substantial progress. Recently, USMNT players have joined our discussions, which is a welcome development and one that we feel can help us get to the finish line soon.
At the same time, discussions with the USWNT Players Association began in late April and formal bargaining got underway following the conclusion of the Olympics. The USWNT’s current CBA expires at the end of this year, and we have been in regular and productive talks with the USWNT Players Association as we work towards a new agreement.
We are making important progress, but are also nearing a critical inflection point. I think it is important for you, as our fans, to know that U.S. Soccer will be offering the Men’s National Team and the Women’s National Team the exact same contract, just as we have in past negotiations. In no uncertain terms, that means offering CBAs that include equalized FIFA World Cup prize money, identical game bonuses and identical commercial and revenue sharing agreements – for both the men’s and women’s national teams.
Finally, resolving ongoing litigation with the USWNT continues to be among our top priorities. I have been frank in my view that U.S. Soccer’s preference is to resolve this matter outside of court. We remain committed to settling this matter and would happily agree to settle this case so that we can chart a more positive and collaborative path forward.
As we look ahead with hopeful anticipation of the USMNT returning to the FIFA World Cup in 2022 in Qatar, and the USWNT continuing its unrivaled success as the best team in the world, we know success off the field includes peace with the players. Our focus is on the future and is clear: to reset and refocus our relationship with the players, and to move forward together.
My commitment to you is that we will make ourselves available to work around the clock with the Players Associations representing our senior national teams to agree to equitable collective bargaining agreements and to equalize World Cup prize money, and that we will continue to keep fans informed of our progress toward these ambitious and important goals.
We know that you all want these issues resolved promptly and fairly so we can all focus on growing and enjoying the game we love. At U.S. Soccer, we share that desire and urgency, and we are committed to doing everything in our power to get these deals done quickly – and get them done right.
Cindy Parlow Cone
President, U.S. Soccer