'They said it was not possible': US Soccer to offer equal World Cup prize money for men and women

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The US Women's team celebrate winning the World Cup in 2019 - GETTY IMAGES
The US Women's team celebrate winning the World Cup in 2019 - GETTY IMAGES

US Soccer has become the first football federation in the world to equalise World Cup prize money in a landmark move hailed as “historic” for the global game.

The deal, which marks the end of a lengthy equal pay battle brought by the US Women’s National Team (USWNT), will see the US men’s and women’s teams share the federation’s broadcast, partner and sponsorship revenue going forwards.

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World Cup prize money had formed a prominent part of the lawsuit that the USWNT filed in 2019 when it accused US Soccer of gender discrimination for refusing to pay its men’s and women’s teams equally.

Despite winning the World Cup on four separate occasions, the women's team has historically faced discrepancies in earnings compared to its male counterpart - including smaller World Cup bonuses - but that gender pay gap will now be closed.

The announcement comes just three months after US women agreed a $24 million (£17.8m) settlement to end a six-year, equal-pay battle with their own federation, although that was a third of the amount they originally sought in damages.

"They said equal pay for men and women was not possible, but that did not stop us and we went ahead and achieved it," said Walker Zimmerman, member of the union leadership group. "We hope this will awaken others to the need for this type of change, and will inspire FIFA and others around the world to move in the same direction.”

Under the terms of the new deal, which runs until 2028, players from both teams will "pool and share" the otherwise unequal prize money paid by FIFA for participation in their respective World Cups.

For non-World Cup tournaments, players from "both teams will earn an equal amount of the total prize money paid when both teams participate in the same competition.”

"This is a truly historic moment," said Cindy Parlow Cone, the US Soccer President. "These agreements have changed the game forever here in the United States and have the potential to change the game around the world.”

Improved childcare provision, parental leave, short-term disability, mental health impairment, travel and equal quality of venues and field playing surfaces are among the other benefits included in the deal, which US Soccer hopes will “set the global standard moving forward in international soccer."

Becky Sauerbrunn, the US women’s captain, said she hoped the agreement would “serve as the foundation for continued growth of women's soccer both in the United States and abroad.”

The announcement comes six months before the US men’s team is set to take part in this year’s World Cup in Qatar, which begins on November 21.