U.S. Soccer Proposes Collective Talks on Equal Pay

Cindy Parlow Cone has sat on either side of the negotiating desk in U.S. Soccer’s equal pay battle, first as a participant for the ladies’s nationwide workforce and most not too long ago because the federation’s president. She is aware of the historical past. She is aware of the problems. And she is aware of the obstacles.

“We’re not on opposite sides,” Cone mentioned Friday morning. “It may seem that way at times, but we’re on the same team, we all have the same goal. It’s just how do we get there.”

Last week, Cone took goal at what she sees as the most important impediment to resolving the equal pay battle: the unequal prize cash FIFA, soccer’s world governing physique, pays to groups that take part within the World Cup. Those payouts, value tens of tens of millions of however vastly unequal for women and men, are broadly seen as the only greatest impediment to resolving U.S. Soccer’s lengthy authorized battle with its girls’s workforce, which incorporates a number of the most excessive profile girls’s athletes on the earth.

In personal letters to the gamers associations of the boys’s and ladies’s nationwide groups, and in a public one despatched to followers and U.S. Soccer members on Friday, Cone and U.S. Soccer proposed a brand new spherical of negotiations that will deliver collectively the federation and its males’s and ladies’s groups to hunt a negotiated cut up of World Cup prize cash.

“Until FIFA equalizes it, it’s going to be those three parties that will have to come together to find a solution,” Cone mentioned.

The proposed talks come at a crucial second for U.S. Soccer, and will pit the pursuits of the boys’s workforce — which has excoriated the federation for underpaying the ladies’s workforce in public statements and briefs filed in federal courtroom — towards these of the ladies’s gamers. The federation’s collective bargaining settlement with the boys’s workforce expired on the finish of 2018 and its take care of the ladies’s workforce will lapse on the finish of this yr.

While separate negotiations with each groups have begun — an settlement with the boys that U.S. Soccer’s chief government mentioned was on a “good path” in June now seems to be on maintain — Cone mentioned Friday that neither workforce would get a brand new settlement with out a decision on World Cup bonuses.

“As U.S. Soccer, I don’t think we’re willing to sign a C.B.A. that doesn’t equalize World Cup prize money,” Cone mentioned.

Cone additionally mentioned in her letter to members that U.S. Soccer would supply the identical contract to each nationwide groups, one thing the federation says it has completed earlier than. The chief of the ladies’s workforce’s gamers affiliation known as that “simply false” on Friday.

“If the USSF was serious about equal pay, they would not engage in publicity stunts which fall short of addressing our issues,” mentioned Becca Roux, the chief director of the USWNT Players Association. “We are interested in negotiating in good faith to get a fair deal for our players and will not let them use our fight for equality to create a divide between the women and men.”

Asked for a timetable on talks about World Cup bonuses, U.S. Soccer President Cindy Parlow Cone joked: “Tomorrow? Yesterday? As soon as possible.”Credit…Brad Smith/ISI Photos/Getty Images

In her letter to followers, Cone known as the “massive discrepancy” in World Cup prize cash “the most challenging issue we continue to face in our parallel negotiations with the men’s and women’s national teams.”

But in tying resolving it to the C.B.A. talks, Cone, who received the 1999 World Cup and two Olympic gold medals as a member of the ladies’s workforce, highlighted one other longstanding characteristic of the equal pay dispute: The males’s and ladies’s workforce have lengthy had totally different priorities in such negotiations, with the boys — who earn most of their salaries from membership soccer — urgent for greater match charges and bonuses and the ladies — who earn far much less as execs — stressing the monetary safety of assured annual incomes.

“That’s our challenge as a federation, and that’s what the women are fighting for,” Cone mentioned. “We discuss in regards to the totally different constructions, and that’s a part of the issue — it’s laborious to succeed in equal once they don’t need the very same factor — however the principle problem is the huge discrepancy in World Cup prize cash.

“Until FIFA solves that discrepancy, we actually want the assistance of the boys’s and the ladies’s groups to return collectively to assist us resolve that. Because we are able to’t unilaterally resolve that.”

The U.S. girls’s workforce’s battle has already produced important beneficial properties for its gamers on pay and bonuses, to the purpose that the U.S. males’s and ladies’s groups are believed to be the 2 highest-compensated nationwide groups on the earth. And the ladies’s successes, and their public stress, have led to tangible beneficial properties for ladies world wide. Ireland’s soccer federation not too long ago joined Australia, the Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand, England and Brazil in equalizing match charges — the cash gamers are paid by their federations for showing in nationwide workforce video games — between their males’s and ladies’s groups.

But a lot of these agreements, a few of them negotiated collectively by a single gamers affiliation, apply solely to funds from every federation to its gamers, and ignore the elephant within the room: that FIFA’s prize cash for the most important males’s competitors dwarfs what girls’s groups earn in their very own world championship.

France’s males’s workforce, for instance, claimed $38 million of a roughly $400 million prize pool after its World Cup victory in 2018, producing bonuses of about $350,000 per participant. A yr later, the United States girls took house $four million of a $30 million pot for successful the world title.

Like the French stars, the United States girls’s gamers additionally earned six-figure payouts, however for them and different girls’s gamers, the broader inequalities in prize cash persist. Australia’s deal, for instance, ensures its males’s and ladies’s gamers the identical proportion of World Cup prize cash, however not equal quantities — a distinction that would run into the tens of millions over the size of the deal.

A negotiated resolution to the federation’s many authorized entanglements has lengthy appeared to be the easiest way out of a battle that has price U.S. Soccer tens of tens of millions of in authorized charges and incalculable hits to its fame amongst gamers, followers and sponsors. (In addition to its authorized battle with the ladies’s workforce, U.S. Soccer is in a concurrent one with the previous goalkeeper Hope Solo over her personal equal pay claims.) It is why Cone, and the federation, have pressed for extra talks in practically each public assertion on the case since she took over the function of U.S. Soccer president in March 2020.

And it might be why Cone is now targeted on collective talks as a substitute of extra authorized briefs.

“Obviously I would like to settle this litigation outside of the courtroom, but that takes both sides coming to the table to do that,” she mentioned. “From U.S. Soccer’s standpoint, this litigation isn’t good for the sport, and this continuous fighting with the players isn’t helping us grow the game.”