Earlier today, the US Soccer Federation and the US Women’s National Team Players Association announced that they had, after many long months of negotiation, come to an accord on a new CBA (collective bargaining agreement), which will be in effect until 2021. According to the New York Times, the agreement will result in a remarkable increase in the base annual payment for USWNT members, which does not include even greater bonuses they could receive for being involved in World Cup and Olympic years, which under this CBA will be the 2019 World Cup in France and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Looking out for the league
The new agreement also includes a greater commitment from US Soccer for the NWSL, and while the USWNT players union can’t legally negotiate on NWSL players’ behalf, the CBA also lays out standards for the league that the federation will have a hand in improving. There has also been an increase in the bonuses given for being invited to national team camp and making team rosters, which should directly affect the players on the outer bubble of the USWNT player pool. In a nod to past inequalities in that standard, the federation will also pay the current players for the difference of two years worth of per diems that were unequal to the men’s team (the men’s increase was due to a separately negotiated CBA with their players association).
US Soccer’s greater investment in the NWSL will be matched by the players themselves, with national team members re-committing to the league as part of their subsidized Federation Player salary (though they can still choose to play abroad, like Carli Lloyd, Crystal Dunn and Alex Morgan are doing this season). Players will also have greater control over their own image rights as a part of the agreement, which should allow them freedom to pursue endorsements in a system much closer to a free market, resulting in players being able to raise their own profiles internationally while also representing the national team, and their club squads.
In a joint statement released on the US Soccer website, both the US Federation and the players’ representatives felt proud of what they had been able to accomplish in the negotiating room. “We believe this is another important step to continue our longstanding efforts to drive the growth of women’s soccer in the United States.” U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati said. “This agreement helps to ensure the strength of the Women’s National Team, provide stability and growth potential for the National Women’s Soccer League, and over time strengthen the elite player development process at the grassroots level. We believe our continued partnership will ensure a bright future for our sport for years to come.” From the players’ perspective, USWNT and Seattle Reign FC midfielder Megan Rapinoe said in the statement, “I am incredibly proud of this team and the commitment we have shown through this entire process. While I think there is still much progress to be made for us and for women more broadly, I think the W.N.T.P.A should be very proud of this deal and feel empowered moving forward.”
A Stepping Stone for the Future
While the full details of the CBA are unlikely to be known outside of any possible future court filing, the USWNT certainly has a lot to be proud of with the ratification of this agreement. They pulled together, and got back into negotiations that had all but completely stalled at the end of the last calendar year, and looked out for the long-term well being of the domestic league, and those up-and-coming players that are rising through the ranks and developing with their club squads. One can only hope that this agreement will be looked at as a stepping stone, and a base on which women’s soccer in the US can grow for many years to come.
The US Women’s National Team will be taking on Russia in an international friendly on Thursday, April 5th. That match can be seen on Fox Sports 1.