June 3 – The US Soccer Federation (USSF) has signed a new five-year deal with VISA with the global payments firm taking a lead on gender parity, specifying that 50% of its sponsorship should go towards the women’s game.
The partnership comes the week before the US women begin the defence of their world title in France. No value was given for the VISA sponsorship.
The US women are still embroiled in a dispute with their national federation. 28 members of the women’s national team player pool joined to file a federal lawsuit against the USSF alleging gender discrimination.
The 41 complaints in the suit include a comparison of the pay discrepancies between the men’s and women’s national team players showing that if each team played 20 friendlies in a year and each team won all 20 friendlies, female players would earn a maximum of $99,000 or $4,950 per game, while male players would earn an average of $263,320 or $13,166 per game. The lawsuit also cites the women’s three World Cup titles, four Olympic gold medals and the 2015 World Cup title game being the most-watched soccer match in American television history, plus the USWNT has also been ranked No. 1 in the world for 10 of the past 11 years.
Visa needed no convincing of a need for parity between the mens and womens teams in the US. Already the presenting sponsor of the SheBelieves Cup, the annual four-team international tournament held in the US, 50% of the new sponsorship money will go towards the women’s team, women’s grassroots initiatives and surrounding marketing efforts.
Lynne Biggar, Visa’s chief marketing and communications officer, said: “By making a substantial investment in women’s initiatives, including soccer, Visa is celebrating this powerful global force.”
Visa has expanded its presence in the women’s game, having also recently secured a seven-year agreement with UEFA to sponsor the women’s game at all levels across Europe.
Jay Berhalter, chief commercial officer at US Soccer, added: “With Visa joining us in our long-term investment in women’s soccer, we will continue to increase opportunities for women players, coaches and referees at all levels.
“We are looking forward to Visa helping us reach our mission by increasing participation, developing world class players, coaches and referees, and increasing fan engagement.”
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