“Until FIFA solves that discrepancy, we really need the help of the men’s and the women’s teams to come together to help us resolve that. Because we can’t unilaterally resolve that.”
The U.S. women’s team’s fight has already produced significant gains for its players on pay and bonuses, to the point that the U.S. men’s and women’s teams are believed to be the two highest-compensated national teams in the world. And the women’s successes, and their public pressure, have led to tangible gains for women around the world. Ireland’s soccer federation recently joined Australia, the Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand, England and Brazil in equalizing match fees — the money players are paid by their federations for appearing in national team games — between their men’s and women’s teams.
But many of those agreements, some of them negotiated collectively by a single players association, apply only to payments from each federation to its players, and ignore the elephant in the room: that FIFA’s prize money for the biggest men’s competition dwarfs what women’s teams earn in their own world championship.
France’s soccer federation, for example, received $38 million from FIFA, out of a roughly $400 million prize pool, after its World Cup victory in 2018. A year later, U.S. Soccer was paid the winner’s share of $4 million from a $30 million pot at the Women’s World Cup.
Most federations share those riches with the players who earned them — France paid World Cup bonuses of about $350,000 per men’s player in 2018 — but retain the bulk of the money to support their missions. U.S. Soccer, by contrast, has long funneled a much higher share of prize money to its teams, a situation that, over the years, created a significant pay gap.
That arrangement also meant that, while the American men earned nothing when they missed the 2018 World Cup, the United States women’s players earned six-figure payouts. Still, for them and other women’s players, the broader inequalities in prize money persist. Australia’s deal, for example, guarantees its men’s and women’s players only the same percentage of World Cup prize money, not equal amounts — a difference that could run into the millions over the length of the deal.