U.S. Soccer will provide equal pay to members of its men's and women's national teams after an agreement on new collective bargaining agreements was reached Wednesday.
Andrew Das of the New York Times reported the USMNT and USWNT agreed to place all of their earnings into a single pool, including a "notable concession" from the men's side to include the money from the lucrative men's FIFA World Cup, that will then be divided equally among all players who take part in international matches.
"No other country has ever done this," U.S. Soccer president Cindy Parlow Cone said. "I think everyone should be really proud of what we've accomplished here. It really, truly is historic."
The new CBA contracts run through 2028, and initial projections suggest full-time national team players can expect annual payments from U.S. Soccer around $450,000, a figure that could more than double in years where one of the teams makes a "successful" World Cup run, per Das.
At least some financial windfall is guaranteed for the next two men's World Cups. The USMNT qualified for the 2022 event in Qatar and will automatically be included in the 2026 field as a co-host alongside North American neighbors Canada and Mexico.
The USWNT is also a virtual lock to make the 2023 and 2027 women's World Cups as the top-ranked team in the FIFA rankings.
Meanwhile, it's estimated 90 percent of the money U.S. Soccer receives from FIFA for World Cup participation will go toward the new contracts, and the governing body also agreed to split commercial revenue with the players.
Cone said questions about whether U.S. Soccer can continue to handle its core purpose of growing the sport nationwide are fair in wake of the agreements, per Das.
"There's no denying that money that we have to pay our national teams is money that's not reinvested in the game," she said. "And people can take that perspective. But the way I look at it is that our job is to try to figure out how all three groups can work together to grow the pie so that everyone is benefiting."
The contracts to guarantee equal pay come after U.S. Soccer and prominent members of the USWNT settled a class action equal-pay lawsuit in February that included a $24 million payment to the players.
Megan Rapinoe, one of the driving forces in the equal-pay push by the women's team, said on ABC's Good Morning America at the time that the settlement was a major turning point for their efforts.
"This is a huge win for all women," Rapinoe said. "I think we're going to see that in the coming days and hopefully this will be a day we look back on in a number of years when we're a little bit older and say that's the moment that everything changed."
The USMNT's union backed the women's effort to secure equal pay during the lawsuit.
USMNT defender Walker Zimmerman said Wednesday that internal negotiations among men's players "wasn't always the smoothest" process, but they ultimately came to the realization there was "no other way to get this done" other than splitting the World Cup revenue, per Das.
"Trying to voice what you believe should happen, what is possible, what is right—those conversations are difficult," Zimmerman said. "But at the end you have a group of players both on the men's and women's side who came together and got it done."
The men's team's preparations for the 2022 World Cup will continue in June with a total of four matches—two friendlies against Morocco and Uruguay and two CONCACAF Nations League matches against Grenada and El Salvador.
The women's next matches are also in June, when they play Colombia in two friendlies prior to the finals of the CONCACAF Women's Championship in July.