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Hoping to resolve its impasse with the U.S. women’s team over equal pay, U.S. Soccer is proposing joint negotiations with both of its national teams over equal division of World Cup prize money.
U.S. Soccer doesn’t control what FIFA awards in prize money, federation president Cindy Parlow Cone said in an open letter to fans Friday. How U.S. Soccer distributes those funds is dictated by collective bargaining agreements with each team.
“Finding a framework that works for everyone will require open and thoughtful conversations and sincere commitment from USMNT and USWNT players to come together,” Parlow Cone wrote. “Until FIFA equalizes the prize money that it awards to the men’s and women’s World Cup participants, it is incumbent upon us to collectively find a solution.”
The open letter to fans echoes offers made last week to both national teams.
The U.S. women are suing U.S. Soccer for equal pay, and the disparity in World Cup prize money has been a sticking point.
FIFA awarded $400 million to the 32 teams in the men’s World Cup in 2018, including $38 million to champion France. A year later, FIFA gave $30 million to the 24 teams in the women’s World Cup, with the USWNT getting $4 million for its fourth title.
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The U.S. men did not get anything in 2018 because they failed to qualify for the World Cup in Russia. They’re currently in third place in qualifying for next year’s World Cup in Qatar, with 11 games still to be played in Concacaf’s 14-game “octagonal.”
U.S. Soccer has been lobbying FIFA to address the disparity, which Parlow Cone described as “stark” in her letter. But U.S. Soccer says it would go bankrupt if it went back and paid the USWNT the money it’s been short-changed.
Going forward, however, Parlow Cone said the federation is committed to splitting the prize money from both World Cups equally between the two national teams.
“U.S. Soccer is ready and willing to meet with both groups of players as soon as possible and as often as needed to determine that innovative solution,” she wrote. “We hope our men’s and women’s national teams share our sense of urgency when it comes to doing whatever we can to resolve the prize money gap.”
Parlow Cone also said the federation will be offering both players unions the same contract, which include “equalized FIFA World Cup prize money, identical game bonuses and identical commercial and revenue sharing agreements.” The federation would have preferred to negotiate a single contract with both players unions, but neither team agreed, Parlow Cone said.
Lastly, Parlow Cone said settling the lawsuit with the USWNT remains one of the federation’s “top priorities.”
“We remain committed to settling this matter and would happily agree to settle this case so that we can chart a more positive and collaborative path forward,” she wrote.
The U.S. women are appealing a summary judgment that dismissed the equal pay portion of their lawsuit. The women sued U.S. Soccer for gender discrimination in March 2019, saying they were paid less than the U.S. men’s team and, even when they did make the same amount or more, had to win more games to do so.
Molly Levinson, spokeswoman for the USWNT players, didn’t reject the idea of negotiating with the USMNT on equal World Cup prize money. But she said on Twitter that it was “time to back up a whole lot of words with some actions.”
“USSF has finally acknowledged that they pay women less than men and must correct this ongoing disparity by reaching an equal pay collective bargaining agreement and resolving the ongoing lawsuit,” Levinson wrote. “Letters to fans are not a substitute.”
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: US Soccer wants to negotiate with USMNT, USWNT over World Cup money