The U.S. women's soccer players' union and the sport's governing body have agreed to a five-year collective bargaining agreement, improving standards for the national team and pro league and ensuring labor harmony through the next World Cup and Olympics.
In a joint statement, the U.S. Women's National Team Players Association and U.S. Soccer Federation said they have "ratified a new collective bargaining agreement which will continue to build the women's program in the U.S., grow the game of soccer worldwide and improve the professional lives of players on and off the field. We are proud of the hard work and commitment to thoughtful dialogue reflected through this process, and look forward to strengthening our partnership moving forward."
The sides had been operating under the terms of the previous deal, which expired Dec. 31. In recent years, the players have raised issues about compensation and working conditions compared to their male counterparts, casting a shadow over the efforts of the most successful women's team in soccer history.
In March 2016, the players filed a federal complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, charging the USSF with wage discrimination.
"I am incredibly proud of this team and the commitment we have shown through this entire process," midfielder Megan Rapinoe said after the new deal was finalized. "While I think there is still much progress to be made for us and for women more broadly, I think the [players] should be very proud of this deal and and feel empowered moving forward."
Financial specifics were not immediately available, but sources on both sides say the pact includes:
- Significant increase in direct compensation
- Significant increase in bonus compensation
- Provides for enhanced "lifestyle" benefits for the players with respect to travel and hotels
- Per diem equal to the U.S. men's team
- Greater financial support for players who are pregnant
- Financial support for players adopting a child
In addition, the players' association will now control group likeness rights for licensing and non-exclusive rights in sponsorship categories where USSF does not have a sponsor.
The deal will run through Dec. 31, 2021, covering the 2019 World Cup in France and 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. It will continue compensating national team players allocated to National Women's Soccer League teams and require improvements to NWSL standards. The league will kick off its fifth season April 15-16.