US Men’s Soccer World Cup Run Generated Millions in Prize Money—for the US Women

The US men’s soccer team’s run to the knockout rounds of the World Cup came with a unique twist: a multimillion-dollar bonus for members of the US Women’s soccer team.

The windfall is the result of the teams’ new pact, achieved through parallel collective bargaining agreements, to equally share prize money from their respective World Cups. The US is believed to be the only nation in the world whose men’s and women’s soccer teams share World-Cup Prize money.

Here’s how it works. By reaching the knockout stage, the US men are in line for the $13 million prize allocated by FIFA to each of the World Cup’s 9th-16th place teams. As with most Federations around the world, US Soccer takes a cut of Prize money before it goes to players—in this case, 10%. That leaves $11.7 million.

According to the US men’s and Women’s team CBA deals agreed to last May, the men then give half of that prize money, $5,850,000, to the players who make the US Women’s roster for next summer’s Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

The US women, as part of that deal, will also split their prize money from the 2023 World Cup with the US men.

The men’s share creates a significant bonus for the women’s team. Even if the US women win the 2023 tournament, as they did for the past two Women’s World Cups and four times overall, they’re likely to receive less in Prize money than the US men did for making the round of 16. That’s because FIFA historically has awarded far less Prize money to women than to men.

The total prize pool for this men’s World Cup is $440 million, compared with somewhere in the neighborhood of $60 million for the next Women’s World Cup. (FIFA has yet to confirm prize money, but has said it would at least double the $30 million total from 2019.) The men’s and women’s tournaments both have 32 teams.

The World Cup prize-sharing deal means the men’s and women’s CBAs, which are nearly identical in pay, appear to favor the women. So why would the men agree to it? Because both teams benefited from other aspects of the deal.

The men had been playing under an expired CBA for several years, and the new deal gave them significant raises and revenue-sharing. The men also secured about $11 million in retroactive pay for the period in 2019-2022 between their expired deal and the new one, said Mark Levinstein, the men’s players’ association’s executive director/general counsel.

The US women also received big raises—which the men’s players’ association publicly campaigned for—and agreed to the novel remedy for the gulf between men’s and women’s World Cup Prize pools. The labor deals run through 2028, when both teams can revisit it.

The deal gave US Soccer a measure of peace with both players and the public. As the US Women’s 2019 gender-discrimination suit against the Federation dragged on, some fans became angry at US Soccer. Prominent Federation sponsors, which help generate the revenue it uses to pay national teams, criticized how the Federation was handling the suit.

How much will the men get from the next Women’s World Cup, which begins next July, depends in part on how far the women go. The US has never finished below third place, although the world is starting to catch up.

But if FIFA doubles the per-team Women’s Prize money for 2023, then the US women would be in line for $4 million for a third-place finish and $8 million for winning it all—both significantly less than the $13 million FIFA Prize for the US men’s Round-of-16 finish in Qatar.

After US Soccer’s 10% cut, and after dividing the totals in two, the US men would get $1.8 million for a US Women’s third-place finish and $3.6 million for a Women’s World Cup title.

Sophia Smith, No. 11, of the US celebrates with Rose Lavelle, during a match against England in October.


Photo:

PETER CZIBORRA/Action Images via Reuters

Once the prize money gets to the players, each team decides how to distribute it. The women will share it equally among everyone on their 2023 World Cup roster, USWNT players’ association executive director Becca Roux said. The men’s amounts per player will be decided by the players’ association, said Levinstein, the men’s players association executive director.

“The USMNT players worked with the outstanding representatives of the USWNT players to reach agreements that encourage everyone to work together to advance the sport in this country,” Levinstein said. “The revenue sharing provisions will advance soccer in the United States and set an example for other countries and FIFA to follow.”

Write to Rachel Bachman at [email protected]

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