USSF president Parlow Cone Equal pay breakthrough lifts ‘dark cloud’ over U.S. soccer

United States Soccer Federation President Cindy Parlow Cone told ESPN that achieving equal pay for men’s and women’s national teams has caused “a dark cloud that was hanging over all our heads to move on.”

Parlow Cone said last year the USSF was committed to “equal pay” for national team players, but added that the USSF could not meet players’ financial demands due to the unequal distribution of FIFA prize money.

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While the US women have enjoyed success on the international stage with back-to-back World Cup titles, disparities in FIFA prize money meant they took home far fewer than the men’s winners. American women received a $110,000 bonus for winning the 2019 World Cup; The US men would have received $407,000 if they had won in 2018.

The federation was previously based on payments from FIFA, which earmarked $400m for the 2018 men’s tournament, including $38m for champions France, as opposed to $30m for the 2019 women’s tournament, including $4m Dollars for the champion USA.

FIFA has increased the total for the 2022 Men’s World Cup to US$440 million and its President Gianni Infantino has proposed that FIFA increase the women’s prize money for the 2023 Women’s World Cup, where FIFA will increase the number of teams has doubled to $60 million by March 32.

After her re-election as president in March, Parlow Cone’s goal was achieved two months later when the men’s and women’s national team unions ratified new collective agreements with US Soccer, including an equal split of World Cup bonuses.

In the new deals, the unions agreed to pool payments from FIFA for the Men’s World Cup later this year and the Women’s World Cup next year, as well as for the 2026 and 2027 tournaments. The USSF will pool FIFA funds, take 10% off the top and then split the rest equally between 46 players – 23 players on each team’s roster. For the 2026-27 cycle, the USSF cut increases to 20% before the split.

Each player receives a corresponding entry fee, making the USSF the first federation to pool FIFA prize money in this way, according to the USSF.

Speaking to ESPN’s Fútbol Americas, Parlow Cone said: “Not only getting equal pay with the CBAs, but also getting the litigation resolved has meant that that dark cloud that’s been hanging over everyone’s heads has moved on.

“It’s influenced everything we’ve done in the federation so it’s really great to now have a reset with our national team players on both the men’s and women’s sides, moving forward together, actually being aligned and hoping for mutual success.

“It’s allowed me to get a little more sleep at night, which I’m grateful for.”

As part of the settlement, players will split $22 million, about a third of what they were asking for in damages. The USSF also agreed to establish a $2 million fund to support players in their post-soccer careers and charitable efforts aimed at promoting the sport for women.

Equal pay has been resolved, but problems remain in US women’s football. Parlow Cone said the National Women’s Soccer League abuse investigation is ongoing.

Paul Riley was fired from North Carolina Courage last year after allegations of sexual and verbal abuse, inappropriate behavior and anti-gay language. Parlow Cone said she was “heartbroken” by the allegations. Former acting attorney general Sally Yates is leading the investigation.

“When I heard that, my personality told me what to change now, I want to act immediately, but I think through this investigation we’re going to really learn what action we actually need to take,” said Parlow Cone.

“What will be effective changes that we need to change as an association and what do we need to create to make players feel safe to report and also increase the record.

“I look forward to the report; I don’t have a schedule, I hope sometime in the next few months, but I don’t have a specific schedule.”

But Parlow Cone is optimistic about a brighter future for U.S. soccer, with an emphasis on diversity and opening up avenues for as many people as possible to access the sport at a young age.

“FIFA has not yet opened bidding for either World Cup, so we are keeping our options open at the moment; we’re going to bid for either the ’27 or ’31 world championships,” said Parlow Cone.

“It’s huge, we saw what the 1999 World Cup did for us here, now I think women’s football and women’s sport in general is at a whole new level with a whole new platform and the investment in our game is on a level that we’re going to see exponential growth in our game, I think if we host a World Cup here.

“The 2026 World Cup will be a moment like no other in this country as we host the World Cup alongside Canada and Mexico.

“We need to make sure we’re doing everything we can leading up to, during and after the World Cup to make sure we capitalize on this momentum and make sure we’re increasing attendance and investment in our game, growing Fandom in all the different ways.”

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report. USSF president Parlow Cone Equal pay breakthrough lifts ‘dark cloud’ over U.S. soccer

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