History of the USWNT
The United States Women’s National Team (USWNT) is currently one of the country’s greatest sources of pride. This soccer club has been dominant in the world on the pitch for decades at this point. They have not finished lower than third place in any international tournament in the 21st century. This includes winning the FIFA Women’s World Cup in both 2015 and 2019. The team placed third in the recent Olympics in Tokyo as well.
The women have unquestionably outperformed their male counterparts on the same stage. The only international tournament the men have won this century is the CONCACAF Gold Cup. Those games only include regional teams rather than the entire world.
You would think all this would mean the women would be compensated at least if not better than the men currently are. You would be wrong in that assumption. That is what the USWNT is hoping to resolve in their current negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA).
USWNT vs USSF
The USWNT agreed to the current CBA with the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) that expires at the end of 2021. That deal came after a long battle between the two parties was eventually settled in 2017. The main reason for these discussions was over equal pay. The club filed a formal complaint with the Equal Employment OpportunityCommision (EEOC) over this issue.
The settlement did not grant the women equal pay as they had originally asked. That was always going to be hard to achieve. FIFA controls the earnings for its tournaments and no one country can change that. Progressing to the round of 18 in the men’s tournament will pay out more than the women’s team that wins theirs.
The women did however score some big victories. The players’ union has constantly been attempting to earn individuals their marketing rights. This new deal allows players to earn money off the pitch through endorsement deals with specific brands. Previously they were limited to brands U.S. Soccer had with few exemptions for players.
The women once again sought equal pay in 2019. This time with a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. This was later dismissed in May of 2020. The judge stated that women were earning more per game than the men from 2015 to 2019 from U.S. Soccer. The USWNT filed a motion seeking to begin the appeals process.
The women did however win a small victory. The judge ruled against U.S. Succoer’s claim that total compensation should be the sole determining factor in the case. This meant that Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, and Becky Sauerbrunn could legally seek ways to earn more beyond their base playing salaries.
What the USWNT Wants in its New CBA
Negotiations for a new CBA for the USWNT are currently heating up. U.S. Soccer reportedly offered identical deals to both the women’s as well as men’s teams. The federation believes those agreements offer exactly the same pay to both squads. The women’s Player’s Association had a response shortly after that. They said this announcement was the USSF exhibiting bad faith negotiating tactics by using the media to win favor from fans.
USSF’s PR stunts and bargaining through the media will not bring us any closer to a fair agreement. In contrast, we are committed to bargaining in good faith to achieve equal pay and the safest working conditions possible. The proposal that USSF made recently to us does neither. https://t.co/lzchRa0hea— USWNT Players (@USWNTPlayers) September 15, 2021
This statement from U.S. Soccer came shortly after urging both teams to work together to share FIFA prize money. The United States Men’s National Teams (USMNT) reportedly supported the women in their lawsuit against the USSF. They have yet to respond to the request from the federation though.
The women simply want a deal they believe reflects them as a collective. Not just for its current players, but for generations that come after them. They want to build progress towards a better future for the game.
Predicting the Outcome
The USWNT’s desires seem simple enough to award them and could bring praise to the federation as a result. The USSF may not be willing to do this thought. They historically have had the power in these negotiations. A lockout may occur if a deal cannot be reached by the end of the year. This means that the players will not be able to play in the U.S. and maybe not make a living playing the sport.
Negotiating CBAs brings out the worst in everyone regardless of the sport. Take a look at how the NFL CBA negotiations played out recently. The league was able to win the public relations battle because they used the media. The players’ union did a disastrous job of combatting this and did not do so well on that deal.
I could see this going a little differently for the USWNT though. They already have the public behind them. The citizens of this country are absolutely behind them in this. They have outperformed the men in every way possible, yet are still falling short in compensation. This also comes at a perfect time. The current social climate is currently in support of minority groups. Just look at all the protests that have happened in the last couple of years for examples of this. I predict they will get most of what they want in this new CBA.
This article was published on the Belly Up Sports website. Belly Up Sports has a Twitter page where you can interact with the network. I also have written for this outlet before so see my most recent story if you would like. If you would like to talk to me directly, feel free to chat with me on my Twitter as well. Try to keep it clean and proper. If you are incapable of doing so, ignore that completely and battle it out with me. Just a few warnings for those who dare challenge me. I am highly competitive and hate to admit when I am wrong. So be prepared for a war of words.