The U.S. women’s national team will play its first stop of a five-game victory tour this weekend when the Ireland national team comes to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.
It’s supposed to be the first part of a celebration, but things aren’t rosy a day ahead of the game. The USWNT issue over pay has carried over into its victory tour, according to a report by Rachel Bachman at The Wall Street Journal.
Longer victory tour creates pay issue
The women’s team, as part of its Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), goes on a victory tour after winning the World Cup. This time around it was set up in the CBA to be four games with each player taking home $60,869 total, per Caitlin Murray at The Guardian. That would be approximately $15,217 per game.
The tour the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) announced after the title game was for five matches since, per a spokesperson to the Journal, there was “incredible fan interest across the country.”
Doing so set up the pay discrepancy that the Wall Street Journal reports lasted up until this week.
U.S. Soccer representatives told the players the first game listed on the tour would actually be characterized as a friendly, executive director for the players association, Becca Roux, told WSJ. Pay compensation for friendlies is done according to the opponent’s FIFA ranking.
Each player would get $5,250 from the friendly against No. 33 Ireland only if they won, per WSJ. Nothing is allocated for a tie or loss. It would be two-thirds less than what’s written in their CBA for a victory tour game.
US Soccer doesn’t confirm pay until 2 days prior
Roux said the players will be paid the $15,217 for each game of the five games played, but that the federation didn’t confirm this until Thursday. And it seems only until it was about to go public.
As of Thursday morning, the players’ association’s understanding was that U.S. Soccer planned to pay the players for the extra game at the lower rate, Roux said. On Thursday afternoon, after The Wall Street Journal inquired about the pay with U.S. Soccer, U.S. Soccer notified team representatives that it would pay the players the victory-tour rate for all five games.
A spokesman for USSF said a final decision was only made once the parties “agreed together” and that “we regret if there was any interpretation otherwise.” Allstate, the sponsor of the tour, told the Journal the USWNT deserves the “respect and pay of world champions, which is more than equal pay.”
The tour continues with matches against Portugal in Philadelphia and St. Paul, Minnesota; and against Korea in Chicago and Charlotte. More than 32,000 tickets have been sold as of Thursday afternoon for the initial match this weekend, per U.S. Soccer.
Player pay vs. U.S. Soccer’s financial windfall
The 2015 World Cup victory tour was marred by artificial turf at many of the sites. The surface is hated by many soccer players and the match in Hawaii was canceled because of the poor conditions.
That tour was 10 stops and players made only $7,826 per game, the Journal reported. On the flip, U.S. Soccer brought in more than $23 million in game revenue, ahead of the projected $16 million, during the World Cup and victory tour, according to a 2016 report by the New York Times. The result was a $6.6 million profit.
The USWNT is heading to mediation with U.S. Soccer for equal pay, equal treatment by the federation and more opportunities for youth girls soccer. U.S. Soccer broke its silence on the issue earlier this week, which Caitlin Murray breaks down for Yahoo Sports here. The men’s national team has voiced its support, though there are detractors beginning to speak up as well.
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