“That’s our challenge as a federation, and that’s what the women are fighting for,” Cone said. “We talk about the different structures, and that’s part of the problem — it’s hard to reach equal when they don’t want the exact same thing — but the main challenge is the massive discrepancy in World Cup prize money.
“Until FIFA solves that discrepancy, we really need the help of the men’s and the women’s teams to come together to help us resolve that. Because we can’t unilaterally resolve that.”
The U.S. women’s team’s fight has already produced significant gains for its players on pay and bonuses, to the point that the U.S. men’s and women’s teams are believed to be the two highest-compensated national teams in the world. And the women’s successes, and their public pressure, have led to tangible gains for women around the world. Ireland’s soccer federation recently joined Australia, the Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand, England and Brazil in equalizing match fees — the money players are paid by their federations for appearing in national team games — between their men’s and women’s teams.
But many of those agreements, some of them negotiated collectively by a single players association, apply only to payments from each federation to its players, and ignore the elephant in the room: that FIFA’s prize money for the men’s World Cup dwarfs what women’s teams earn in their world championship.
France’s men’s team, for example, claimed $38 million of a roughly $400 million prize pool after its World Cup victory in 2018, producing bonuses of about $350,000 per player. A year later, the United States women took home $4 million of a $30 million pot for winning the world title.
The United States women’s players also earned six-figure payouts, but for them and other women’s stars, the broader inequalities in national team prize money persist. Australia’s deal, for example, guarantees its men’s and women’s players the same percentage of the prize money, but not equal amounts — a difference that could run into the millions over the length of the deal.