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U.S. Soccer claims USWNT were paid more than men

U.S. Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro claims that the U.S. Women’s National Team has been paid more than the men’s team after analysis of federation finances.

In an open letter to federation members on Monday, Cordeiro included the results of 10 years of financial data, including payments made to both the USMNT and USWNT. U.S. Soccer’s numbers, which were verified by an independent accounting firm, showed that the USWNT were paid roughly $34.1 million (including bonuses) from 2010-2018, while the USMNT were paid $26.4 million over the same period.

“Just as our WNT players have shared their perspective, I strongly believe that you — as U.S. Soccer members, stakeholders, sponsors and partners — deserve to hear ours,” Cordeiro wrote Monday. “Now that the Women’s World Cup is behind us, a common understanding of key facts will also help advance our shared work to grow women’s soccer in America as well as the larger national discussion about equality.”

FIFA World Cup bonuses were not included in the latest amount, although with bonuses from 2010 onward, the men’s made $41 million while the women’s finished at $39.7 million over the nine-year period. U.S. Soccer has also admitted they should not be responsible for the inequity of FIFA’s prize money.

The winner of the men’s tournament in Russia made more than the total prize pool of the 24-team women’s tournament this summer in France. After winning its fourth World Cup earlier this month, the USWNT are heading to mediation with the USSF over equal pay.

“This is a sad attempt by the USSF to quell the overwhelming tide of support the USWNT has received from everyone from fans to sponsors to the United States Congress,” Molly Levinson, a spokesperson for the players, said in response to the letter. “The USSF has repeatedly admitted that it does not pay the women equally and that it does not believe the women even deserve to be paid equally. This is why they use words like ‘fair’ and ‘equitable,’ not ‘equal,’ in describing pay.

“The numbers the USSF uses are utterly false, which, among other things, inappropriately include the NWSL salaries of the players to inflate the women’s players’ compensation. Any apples-to-apples comparison shows that the men earn far more than the women.”

The USWNT will play its first match since returning from France, this Saturday in Pasadena against the Republic of Ireland.


  1. Russia 2018 made over $4 billion and viewed over 2 billion people.

    France 2019 made under $75 million and viewed about 70 million people.

    Those seem like equal numbers?

  2. These numbers are fudged and doesn’t account for the fact that the men failed to qualify for the World Cup in 2018. The friendlies and WC matches would have had a significant impact to the wages paid. A more realistic approach would be to breakdown the pay per game and revenue per game. Numbers don’t lie but cherry picked data can lead to false conclusions.

    • How are the numbers fudged? Honest question. I agree that USSF isn’t responsible for FIFA’s difference in world cup bonus $ between men and women, therefore that shouldn’t be included. I also agree that the money USSF spends to supplement the pay of the women’s national team players in NWSL should count in any fair comparison. Are there other (logical) factors left out?

      • USSF pays the national teams on a per game basis during FWC matches which is not dependent on prize money. If you want an actual comparison, break it down per game and the numbers will say which way the wind is blowing. If prize money is included as part of this compensation report then the women’s salaries should be exceptionally higher seeing as they actually get results.

        Again, break it down on a per game basis. You could even categorize them in a like for like competition format. Quite certain that the claims of the suit are legitimate. What might work in USSF’s favor is the profit margins for each. If the USMNT is making more profit per game, they should be compensated as such.

        The suit however alleges that the USWNT are making more profit per match for USSF’s coffers. The outlier here would be home matches with Mexico.

    • The men did play games leading up to the World Cup, Remember France? I assume they were paid and I assume that was included in the total $.
      They didn’t get any FIFA money for the World Cup (sadly we were home by then).

    • Quakes,

      I think you would wind up with far more “fudged numbers” trying to pick any single game from either team for comparison. And even if you tried to get a single game average over as large a sample size as possible, it still wouldn’t be very accurate because the USMNT and USWNT play completely different schedules. Total compensation over a number of years is as good an estimate as I can think of.

    • The Women’s Team lost money.

      From the Audited USSF Fact Sheet

      “From 2009 through 2019—a timeframe that includes two Women’s World Cup championships—the Women’s National Team has earned gross revenue of $101.3 million over 238 games, for an average of $425,446 per game, and the Men’s National Team has earned gross revenue of $185.7 million over 191 games, for an average of $972,147 per game. More specifically, WNT games have generated a net profit (ticket revenues minus event expenses) in only two years (2016 and 2017).Across the entire 11-year period, WNT games generated a net loss of $27.5 million. Nevertheless, U.S. Soccer does not view these as losses, but rather as an important investment in our Women’s National Team and in the long-term growth of women’s soccer.”

  3. The reason why the men get compensated more by the national federation is because the men forego more income by playing for the national team. The inequity in pay is actually at the club level. If someone like Pulisic plays a game for the Nats, he’s risking his career and contract with Chelsea, which is worth 10s of millions. If Morgan plays a game for the Nats, she’s risking her career and contract with the NWSL, which is worth millions. The difference is more than an order of magnitude. Insuring Pulisic against injury is an order of magnitude more expensive than insuring Morgan.

    The economic principle is opportunity cost. Because male players take a greater financial risk by putting their future club contracts in peril, which are larger by an order of magnitude, they are compensated greater for that risk. The problem isn’t at the National team level, it’s at the club level. When the women are compensated equally at the club level, they will be compensated equally at the National team level. One mirrors the other.

    If the problem of inequity in pay is at the club level, the women KNOW what the problem is, that is they need to generate more revenue, ie more paying fans in the seats, more eyeballs watching on the TV, more sponsors on their shirts. As long as the Women’s professional soccer leagues struggle to survive, financially, the players will be paid less.

    It’s the same argument economists use about raising the minimum wage. Macroeconomic theory says it will put more people out of work, as employers will employ less. If the NWSL raises salaries, then the league is more likely to go bust, putting all the players out of work, or having to go to other leagues. As the players know, the key to the problem with salary inequity is to make the NWSL a thriving league. It’s the same problem that MLS has compared to the EPL. You can’t pay the players in the MLS the same as the ones in the EPL, because the revenue structure is at a whole different level.

      • Exactly. Try explaining this to people without being called sexist and a mansplainer though. I’m so over the comparisons between the genders since neither a MNT player or a WNT player’s career exists in an even remotely similar vacuum.
        I’m all for our ladies making bank off their success and what they can draw…but they are very much the exception in female team sports not just in America, but worldwide.

    • I’ll give you some credit for making the most creative argument here. But beyond that, you’re all over the place with some of these concepts. First, men do not “forego” income by playing for the national team. The players under contract still earn their primary incomes from their clubs, even during international breaks/tournaments. Your claim might make sense if players were effectively “loaned” by the club teams to the national teams (which frankly probably makes more sense than the existing system), but this isn’t how it works now.It’s more a like a second job that they can *choose* to take that happens to offer incremental income.
      While you correctly state that the amount of future club-derived income that is “risked” by participating in a World Cup is greater for the higher-earning’s men’s players, the idea that the money paid by the federation to the players is some sort of “risk compensation” or “insurance policy” is absurd. Even the USSF has never bothered with a wonky argument like this. This is simply not how insurance works and it is not how you address this type of risk — terribly inefficient and does not take implement the core concept of insurance at all (i.e. risk pooling). Managing injury risk is not complicated and this is most easily done via existing insurance markets. Most high-earning players in all sports maintain insurance against catastrophic injury. This is their failsafe — not some (comparatively) small payments from the national federation that would provide woefully inadequate “insurance”, even for the lower earning players.
      Ultimately, payments to players on national teams are best viewed as incentive payments, not insurance. They are specifically structured to reward successful team/individual performance on the pitch, not to compensate for injury risk. Payouts go up as results get better. Period. If anything, an injury probably lowers a player’s expected payout. Hardly insurance.


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