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U.S. Senators send letter to Garber, SUM requesting USMNT, USWNT revenue information

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News has been quiet on the “Equal pay for equal play” front for some time, but two U.S. Senators have made headlines with their letter to MLS commissioner Don Garber.

Patty Murray, Senator from Washington, and Dianne Feinstein, Senator from California, penned a letter to Don Garber with respect to his role as CEO of Soccer United Marketing, which owns the marketing rights for the U.S. Soccer Federation.

The letter requests information from Garber regarding how commercial and revenue agreements impact the wage disparity between the U.S. Men’s and Women’s National Teams. Particularly, the letter addresses how the relative value of the Men’s and Women’s teams are evaluated in the context of total revenue generated and notes that Garber, in his position as CEO, is uniquely qualified to shed light on the issue.

“The Women’s Team is a source of national pride and serves as an inspiration to young athletes across the United States and around the world,” the Senators write, “Yet, according to Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filings, a top-tier player on the Women’s Team winning 20 games earns less than 40 percent of what a top-tier Men’s player would earn.”

U.S. Soccer has frequently attributed the disparity in pay to a disparity in revenue generated by each team, claiming that the Men’s team generated three times as much revenue as the Women’s. The letter claims the lack of transparency surrounding U.S. Soccer’s revenue makes it difficult to understand the magnitude of the disparity and the impact that different revenue streams have on the pay breakdown.

The Senators requested that Garber provide a breakdown of revenue, details of individual revenue streams, a percentage of contracts that contain sponsorship of the Women’s team, a description of U.S. Soccer’s efforts to grow the women’s game, and any other relevant information.

This is not the first time that Senator Murray and Senator Feinstein have been at the forefront of this debate. The Senators introduced a resolution in May calling for equal pay between the Men and Women’s teams, and previously sent a letter requesting information similar to this time back in August.

 

46 comments
  • Old School

    Hopefully this information goes public because I’d be incredibly curious to compare every stream of revenue that is brought in for their respective sides to give a sincere comparison to how equal things are.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Rob

      You take the senator’s letter and interject yourself tomake it sound as if it was your idea.

      Like

      • Old School

        By stating I’m curious if the facts will actually be made public and expressing my interest to compare them makes it sound as if it’s my idea?

        Please, explain.

        Like

      • TheFrenchOne

        Rob: Way to turn a simple comment into a pissing match. Old School posts plenty of things that can be debated, but this wasn’t one of them…

        Liked by 2 people

    • Jack

      Even if they are bringing in equal money, they are on completely different pay structures. US Soccer has to try and fund a league and it’s long term goals with the woman. Plan for the down times when maybe they don’t win a Gold medal and there might be less attention. The Women are the ones that wanted all the benefits of a yearly salary.

      Like

      • Old School

        I completely agree, and share the same perspective. The USWNT seemed to be running out of reasons to justify the grounds for “equal” (notice the quotes) pay while ignoring all kinds of other factors.

        I have a strong inclination this latest metric won’t favor them either, hence, I’m curious if the numbers go public. After all, Don Garber is now involved so anonymity and convolutedly are abound.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Joe Dirt

      Old School’s right. SUM is a non transparent entity that makes a killing by organizing the summer friendlies of the ICC as well as friendlies for Mex NT, Brazil, and others that play games in the US for pay days. They make a lot of money playing those games and even though their managements overlap with MLS, MLS continues to claim that their franchises don’t make money. Its ridiculous and I’d welcome FIFA or the US Senate shedding some like on this dark soccer monopoly of MLS/SUM.

      Like

      • Old School

        You hit the nail on the head.

        As a subplot to the “equal pay” conversation, my immediate thoughts went to the transparency of Garber’s dual-involvement in both entities and if any skeletons do exist. As I said in my original statement, I really do hope this actually goes public, but I wouldn’t bet on it doing so for a number of factors.

        Like

    • CU24

      Thanks for your incredibly well thought out and educated comment. It brought a lot to the argument.

      Like

      • Old School

        While that is a completely ignorant statement, considering you’re the owner of the following response: “Those chicks produce more than you.” I’d hold off on grading the value of contribution someone is making to the discussion.

        Liked by 2 people

    • jhogsten

      Why is this an ignorant comment, because its not politically correct? I can only think of 1 sport where Id rather watch woman play then men.. Volleyball.. Other than that the games are much slower and boring… No one is rushing to the ticket gates to buy tickets to watch women play sports.. Sorry but the truth is in the numbers… Numbers dont lie..

      Like

    • Hunky Dory

      I was wondering if Donald Trump reads these posts. My only question is, hey, Donald, did Ivanka help you come up with the name jhogsten?

      Like

  • Jack

    I suppose I don’t have a problem with them wanting more information, however this is still not really an issue. One I think doesn’t have as much public support as it once might of.

    Like

    • bryan

      not an issue? if SUM revenue directly attributed to USWNT games/merch/etc. is being used to pay MLS owners while this level of disparity is happening, it’s a huge deal. it means they are taking revenue directly attributed to the women and giving it to someone else while keeping the women pay very low.

      Liked by 1 person

      • johnnyrazor

        SUM is paid their share for the services they provide USSF, they are not taking revenue from the USWNT and giving it to MLS owners. They do not have anything to do with player contracts or compensation so they are not responsible for the women’s collective bargaining agreement.

        Like

      • bryan

        Razor…it’s very clearly worded that they DONT know that. It is not disclosed. So for you to say what you just said is not correct. You can read exactly what they are investigating. Specifically what % of SUM revenue that comes from USWNT. MLS owners DO get $$$ from SUM, that’s not disputed. So ONE of many items being looked at is around if any portion of revenues driven from the women go to unrelated expenses given the equal pay discussion. If it is found the women are driving more than enough revenue to get equal pay but that revenue is being shared elsewhere, an explanation will be requested.

        Like

      • johnnyrazor

        Your missing the point of what they are looking for, or perhaps my quick and dirty explanation was too confusing.

        SUM is basically a material witness.

        Here’s how it works, a while ago USSF realized that the marketing of its teams was far to complex and time consuming for its relatively small full time staff to handle. So it reached an agreement with a marketing company to handle sponsorships and tv agreements for them. They sold these rights to SUM or the marketing company created by MLS to handle its own marketing interests worldwide. For the rights to these agreements SUM pays USSF 8.5 million (2014, probably more at this point), SUM in turn receives the money from the agreements so ESPN, FOX, Budweiser, etc… all pay SUM and they get to keep that money. USSF decides how the 8.5 is divided, SUM decides how it divides its millions, some going to its shareholders just as any marketing company would do with its profits.

        What these members of congress want to know is what percentage of these sponsorship and tv agreements come from the men and what comes from the women. USSF has stated that much more comes from the men’s side thus reason for the disparity, SUM/Garber would be privy to if that is true or not. For example if SUM is gaining 50% of its take of the agreements it makes on behalf of US Soccer from agreements pertaining to WNT, the pay disparity is in fact in place. If SUM is taking in 70-80% from sponsorships from the MNT then the pay gap makes economic sense.

        SUM is not involved in the collective bargaining agreements with either the WNT or MNT so they have no involvement in any pay disparity.

        Like

      • bryan

        save the condescending attitude. you literally just repeated what i said the issue was. also, lets be clear on the numbers:

        “According to U.S. Soccer financial reports, SUM pays a yearly minimum amount to U.S. Soccer in exchange for the commercial rights to the Men’s and Women’s Teams. Additional revenue generated from marketing U.S. Soccer events beyond a specified amount is split between SUM and U.S. Soccer. In 2014 and 2015, SUM paid $15.4 million and $18.3 million to U.S. Soccer respectively under this arrangement which includes $6.7 million and $5.5 million in revenue sharing. However, given the pooled contract and sales structure, it is unclear how much of either the $15.4 million or 18.3 million is attributable to the Women’s or Men’s Teams alone.”

        So the portion is actually $18.3M, not $8.5M and it is not transparent in HOW it was driven other than “US National Team”. like you said, they want to know % attributed to both the men and the women. that will give them clarity into whether or not USSF is correct when they say the men drive more revenue and therefore get paid more. that is the main issue at hand here among some of the other specific questions they laid forward.

        but there is MORE to it then that. as described perfectly well here:

        “When negotiating with sponsors, SUM may bundle sponsorship of the Men’s and Women’s Teams with a variety of other soccer teams and tournaments in your portfolio. Given the fact that many details of marketing agreements are confidential, this adds to the confusion about the revenue generated for U.S. Soccer that is attributable to either the Women’s or Men’s Teams.”

        so, the MLS thing comes into play here. IF they can prove some of the money that ended up going to MLS actually had a portion that came from bundled Women’s NT sponsorship(s), you now have money driven by the women going to MLS. which would render USSF’s argument even weaker. as stated, this applies to any other portfolio item (e.g. FMF games).

        This general lack of transparency surrounding the revenue generated for U.S. Soccer by SUM makes it challenging to accurately understand the magnitude of the disparity in the revenue generated by the Women’s and Men’s Teams and the impact that differentials in these revenues have on the salaries of the Men’s and Women’s Team players. In order to clarify these issues, we request that SUM provide:

        1. A breakdown of the annual revenue generated for SUM by the Women’s Team and the Men’s Team over the past eight years.

        2. A description of the individual revenue streams that include revenue generated from the Women’s Team over the past eight years.

        3. The percent of contracts that include sponsorship of Women’s Team games.

        4. A description of any ongoing efforts by SUM to promote the growth of women’s soccer both domestically and abroad.

        5. Any other information you deem critical to help us better understand the relationship between the disparity in compensation and the marketing rights to U.S. Soccer.”

        Like

      • bryan

        so again, the CBA is irrelevant and you can stop talking about it now. MLS, and in turn MLS owners, receive some kind of money from SUM. that money is going to be used to pay down any MLS-related expenses. the biggest expense in MLS? Salaries. So they don’t need to be involved in player contracts, they don’t need to be in CBA discussions…that is missing the point. the point the Senators are getting at is; are SUM monies being used to pay any MLS expenses, and if so, was any of the money generated via USWNT sponsorship bundled with MLS deals?

        Like

      • bryan

        Lastly, yes, regarding the USSF CBAs, SUM has no part and no one has suggested otherwise. how they pay the players is based on USSF and the respective PUs. what USSF has to prove is that all USWNT revenue is going to USWNT salaries. meanwhile SUM has to show they included in their USSF payment all revenue driven from any bundled sponsorship deals including the USWNT to other parts of their portfolio.

        Like

  • BW

    “The Senators requested that Garber provide…a description of U.S. Soccer’s efforts to grow the women’s game…”

    Yeah like dropping millions to prop up a worthless womens league that no one can stand to watch. When U.S. Soccer is paying my MLS club’s payroll then we can talk about equal pay.

    Liked by 1 person

    • bryan

      “When U.S. Soccer is paying my MLS club’s payroll then we can talk about equal pay.”

      This is exactly what is being investigated. a portion of SUM revenue DOES go to MLS owners…and it’s not an insignificant amount.

      Like

      • BombVoyage

        Wow, there’s a groundbreaking insight there. Considering MLS owners literally own SUM, one would imagine some portion of SUM revenues, colloquially called “profits”, go to them.

        Like

      • Jack

        SUM just doesn’t want Mexico to find out how much they are making every time they play a friendly here.

        Like

  • Scott e Dio93

    The chicks don’t produce what the Men produce.

    Like always bureaucrats spend TAX PAYER’s money on worthless issues.

    Like

    • CU24

      Those chicks produce more than you. And a sever discrepancy in pay would break the laws that the bureaucrats are paid to create.

      Like

      • jhogsten

        I bet you think the women in the WNBA should get the same pay as NBA players..

        Like

      • Scott e Dio93

        I doubt it. I am small business owner and retire military. So silent Cooper Cab.

        Like

      • Scott e Dio93

        Anyway Feinstein is like parasite sucking the life out the people of California. I am proud Pete Wilson voter!

        Like

    • Beto

      women’s team is a revenue machine; costs next to nothing and brings in a fair amount. the men’s team costs a ton and brings in a lot…

      no matter how you look at there is no way equality is being served. SUM/USSF/MLS/etc is doing big things for all involved but inequality and cronyism is rampant – call it growing pains if you want but is it legal?

      Like

      • johnnyrazor

        How big a revenue stream is what people are trying to find out. We know in WC years and normal Olympic years the WNT brings in more in ticket revenue from their victory tours, but we have no idea about TV deals and sponsorship moneys because they are lumped together.

        When I go to a restaurant I can’t tell in the food if the chef is a man or a women yet, on average male chefs with the same training make more money, that is wrong. If you blurred out the players so you couldn’t tell if they were male or female you would be able to see a very obvious difference in quality, that is what makes this issue more difficult. Its not equal pay for equal work its equal pay for similar work. Like a PDL player saying its unfair to pay him less than an MLS player.

        Like

      • Old School

        How big a revenue stream is what people are trying to find out.

        Bingo.

        Like

      • Scott e Dio93

        A mediocre USNT have higher revenue: World Cup & Gold Cup have higher ratings = more revenue.

        Note: how many failed female soccer leagues? in less 20 years?

        Like

  • Quit Whining About Soccer in the US

    I got to think the revenue isn’t there. Just not enough interest. I hope I am wrong. To me it seems like I am one of the more interested parties outside of the WCup finals, and I am a passive interest.
    I hope I am wrong.

    ps. If I am wrong, pay them, obviously. Not sure how anyone could have a different conclusion.

    Like

    • johnnyrazor

      You would have to think if the revenues were nearly equal the contracts would be negotiated individually, not lumping MNT, WNT, MLS, and NWSL all into one package.

      Like

  • Hunky Dory

    SUM is the dark back alley of US Soccer. Sunil, The Don, and their cronies will work harder than Tim Howard v Belgium to make sure that the SUM accounting numbers never, EVER see the light of day. Like Trump’s tax records.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Buffon69

    Just abolish all gender-specific sports, you racist bigots. It’s the current year, after all. Ugh, I can’t even.

    Any woman that is good enough can play in the men’s league.

    Liked by 1 person

  • troy2

    Ok so when it becomes clear that the women’s team makes considerably less money than the men’s team, despite winning World Cups, can we all just move forward? Then the men’s higher pay is justified right?

    Like

    • jhogsten

      Yes its justified because nobody wants to watch women play…And the numbers back my statement up.. They are slower, less physical, and dont have the excitement that men have in their games. If im wrong people would be lining up to watch women sports, but i dont see that happening.

      Like

  • talentadvisor

    Like our bathrooms we should only have one undivided team.
    The US National Team, no men’s and no women’s. Let the best athlete (whatever sex they identify with) make the team.

    Like

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