Cordeiro frustrated as US Women reject pay offer and FIFA imbalance comes into focus

March 9 – American governing body US Soccer claims that it offered the US women’s national team equal pay for matches under its control, but Carlos Cordeiro’s letter, released on the eve of International Women’s Day, has vexed the players. 

“Since extending this offer, we have made multiple attempts to meet with the WNT to discuss these new options,” wrote the US Soccer president Cordeiro in a statement on Saturday. “So far, they have repeatedly declined our invitation to meet on the premise that our proposal does not include US Soccer agreeing to make up the difference in future prize money awarded by FIFA for the men’s and women’s World Cups.”

The letter thus says that the women’s union wants equal bonuses for international tournaments, including the World Cup. FIFA stages the women’s game and so the organisation is outside of US Soccer’s remit. The letter also alleges that the union has refused to engage in further negotiations.

Last year, the women’s national team filed a collective lawsuit against US Soccer, seeking more than $66 million in damages as part of a gender discrimination claim. In a statement the players hit back at Cordeiro.

“The USSF letter is riddled with falsehoods and issued on the eve of the SheBelieves game, which demonstrates that it is more important to USSF to diminish the women’s team than it is to support them on the field,” said the players’ spokeswoman Molly Levinson. “USSF did not and has never offered equal pay to the women players.”

On Sunday, the US defeated Spain 1-0 in New Jersey in  the SheBelieves Cup and talisman Megan Rapinoe had some choice words for US Soccer. “The timing of it, on the eve of not only a game in this tournament but on the eve of International Women’s Day,” said Rapinoe. “If that’s how you want to celebrate International Women’s Day and show support for not only your players but potentially future players and girls all over the place, that’s one way to do it. Once again, it’s disappointing to see that stance from the federation, but personally from Carlos. I think it shows the distance between us on some issues. And as our statement [in response to the letter] said, not all of it was true.”

Cordeiro argued that his governing body has responsibilities elsewhere that require major investments and US Soccer also pointed out that the women’s players enjoy some benefits, including annual salaries, medical and dental insurance, child-care assistance and parental leave, that their male counterparts don’t.

“There is indeed a significant difference in World Cup prize money awarded by FIFA to the men’s and women’s championship teams,” wrote Cordeiro. “However, it is not reasonable or fiscally sound for US Soccer to make up the gap. It would seriously impair our ability to support our mission and invest in these other critical developmental areas.”

In 2019, FIFA’s prize money for the Women’s World Cup became the subject of intense scrutiny. The world federation awarded $400 million in prize money for the 2018 men’s World Cup and just $30 million a year later for the women’s equivalent in France.

US Soccer and Cordeiro did make an offer to the United States Women’s National Team Players Association, an organisation in charge of the collective bargaining agreement between players and the federation, but the USWNTPA is not a party to the lawsuit.

As the legal standoff between players and the federation intensifies, it is unlikely that an out-of-court settlement can be found. A trial is set for May.

Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1586311311labto1586311311ofdlr1586311311owedi1586311311sni@o1586311311fni1586311311