18 May 2022
The organization that runs soccer in the United States says its men's and women's national soccer teams will receive equal pay. The U.S. is the first country in the world to make such a promise.
The U.S. Soccer Federation made the announcement Wednesday. It worked with players' groups from both the men's and women's teams to reach an agreement that runs through the end of 2028.
Both groups of players had been playing in games without contracts.
The American women's soccer team is one of the best in the world. The men's soccer team has seen less success; it did not qualify for the World Cup in 2018. Players on the men's team, however, have always received much more money than players on the women's team.
Margaret Purce is a player for the women's team. She said the agreement will help women and girls "recognize their value rather than having to fight for it."
The final part of the agreement that needed to be worked out was how the players would be paid for competing in the World Cup. The women's team won the last two tournaments but still earned far less than the men.
The players' groups, known as unions, agreed to combine the money they received from FIFA, the soccer organization that runs the World Cup.
After the U.S. Soccer Federation takes 10 percent of the money, the rest will be divided equally among the players. Each team has 23 players.
This is important for the female players because there is still much more money in the men's game. In 2018, the last place men's team took home twice as much money compared to the winning American women's team.
Walker Zimmermann is a male player who worked on the contract. He said he was excited. "We saw it as an opportunity to be leaders in this front and join with the women's side..."
Purce said she was "grateful for this accomplishment and for all the people who came together to make it so." However, she added she believed paying men and women equally "is what you're supposed to do."
In the new contract, the women gave up salary guarantees in return for an equal share of the money brought in by U.S. Soccer.
Both male and female players will get help caring for children when they are playing. Before, that was a benefit only for the female players. Both the men and women will also get money for their retirement and share a percentage of the money that comes from ticket sales at their games.
Cindy Parlow Cone is a former member of the women's team. She is now in charge of the U.S. Soccer Federation. She said the key to reaching the agreement was permitting the male and female players to work together during the process. She said working separately was "a challenge." At one point, she thought they would not come up with a good plan.
Mark Levinstein is a lawyer for the men's group. He said the new agreement ends "more than 20 years of federation discrimination against" the female players.
I'm Dan Friedell.
Dan Friedell adapted this story for VOA Learning English based on reporting by the Associated Press.
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Words in This Story
qualify – v. to have the right to do something
tournament- n. a series contests involving players or teams that continues for at least several days
excited- adj. enthusiastic and eager
grateful- adj. feeling or showing thanks
accomplishment- n. the successful completion of something
benefit – n. something extra given to workers by an employer in addition to their regular pay