Avenging its penalty shootout loss in the 2011 Women's World Cup final to Japan will be all the motivation the U.S. team needs for Thursday's gold-medal match, but the U.S. Soccer Federation has confirmed it will get a nice financial bonus if it can win the country's fourth Olympic gold in women's soccer.
USA Today reports that USSF president Sunil Gulati has announced that the team will split a $1.5 million bonus if it beats Japan, while an unspecified but smaller bonus will be paid out in the event of a loss. The bonus shares will be prorated and "the expectation is that the money will be split by the 18 players on the current roster, a pool of about a dozen reserves and training staff."
[Photos: U.S. Women's Soccer team]
This payout would be in addition to the U.S. Olympic Committee's standard bonus structure of $25,000 for any athlete who wins a gold medal, $15,000 for a silver and $10,000 for a bronze. These numbers are dwarfed by Italy's world-leading $182,400 bonus for each of its gold medalists (there have been seven at the time of this writing) and Russia's bonus of about $135,000. Host nation Great Britain, meanwhile, isn't paying out any medal bonuses at all.
In addition to the USSF and USOC bonus money, USA Today goes on to say that winning the final will also determine the length of the U.S. women's soccer team's homecoming tour. A loss would mean that at least three matches would be played upon returning to America, but a win would set up at least 10 additional matches.
This combination of addition cash and matches is extremely valuable to players who largely do not make nearly as much as their male counterparts at the club level. Especially since the Women's Professional Soccer league suspended its 2012 season and then shut down entirely in May, leaving many national team players, including Abby Wambach and captain Christine Rampone, without a club.
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