The US Men’s Soccer Team Lost Today, But the Women Won Big

Under new equal-pay rules, they’ll split the prize money.

The United States' team celebrates after winning the Women's World Cup in France in 2019Francisco Seco/AP

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The United States is out of the men’s World Cup. The US team was eliminated from the tournament after getting trounced by the Netherlands 3-1 in Qatar on Saturday, a disappointing loss for hopeful American fans.

But for the US women’s team, this World Cup represents a major victory—a cash victory.

Under a new labor agreement, as the New York Times’ Lauren McCarthy wrote on Saturday, the women’s team will get an estimated $6 million, an equal split of the prize money awarded to the men’s team for making it to the “knockout” phase. By comparison, the women’s team took home only $5 million when they won the women’s World Cup in France in 2019, and $2 million after taking top honors in Canada in 2015.

Some of the American women players sued the US Soccer Federation in March 2019, alleging that the sport’s governing body had engaged in “intentional gender discrimination.” Four months later, after the US women defeated—yes—the Netherlands to secure the World Cup, the stadium broke out in chants of “equal pay!” The federation heard those chants, apparently. This past February, it agreed to settle the women’s lawsuit.

After the US men defeated Iran 1-0 this week, advancing to the round of 16, the team’s expected earnings totaled at least $13 million. Had they beaten the Netherlands on Saturday, their earnings would have been $17 million. The Times explains:

Under the new agreements, 90 percent of World Cup prize money will be pooled and shared equally between the players on the 2022 men’s World Cup roster and the 2023 Women’s World Cup roster, in a historic move that is unique only to the United States among top soccer-playing nations.

The sharing is reciprocal: When the women defend their World Cup title at the 2023 Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, any earnings will be split with the men’s team.

Now those shared paychecks are finally arriving

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