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Volume 25 No. 6
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U.S. Soccer, USWNT Agree To CBA; Players’ Association Gets Some Likeness Rights

U.S. Soccer and the USWNT players union have agreed to a five-year CBA, "improving standards for the national team" and NWSL, and "ensuring labor harmony" for the '19 FIFA Women's World Cup and '20 Tokyo Games, according to Steven Goff of the WASHINGTON POST. Sources said that the pact includes an increase in direct and bonus compensation, enhanced benefits "related to travel and hotels" and a "per diem equal" to the USMNT. The sources added that the pact also includes "greater financial support for players who are pregnant" and financial support for players "adopting a child." The players’ association will now "control group likeness rights for licensing and nonexclusive rights in sponsorship categories where USSF does not have an agreement," a "key gain." This will "allow the union to market the team to different partners and gather internal data in efforts to further drive revenue." The soccer negotiations "turned the corner this winter when the players fired" union Exec Dir & General Counsel Rich Nichols as their representative. Sources said that Nichols' "hard-line approach was detrimental to the process." After the change, individual players, such as USWNT D Becky Sauerbrunn, "became more involved." Goff notes in March '16, the players  "filed a federal complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, charging the USSF with wage discrimination." The case "remains active" (WASHINGTON POST, 4/6).

ROUND OF APPLAUSE: In N.Y., Andrew Das reports the agreement "includes a sizable increase in base pay for the players" -- more than 30% initially -- and "improved match bonuses that could double some of their incomes, to $200,000 to $300,000 in any given year, and even more in a year that includes a World Cup or Olympic campaign." Yet while the players "can claim significant gains, including on noneconomic issues like travel and working conditions, the new deal does not guarantee them equal pay with the men’s national team, which the women had made the cornerstone of their campaign for much of the past year." It is those changes, "including control of some licensing and marketing rights, which the union views as an opening to test the team’s value on the open market, that the players and their lawyers feel could pay off in future negotiations." Union interim Exec Dir Becca Roux said, "We tried to completely change the methodology for how to define our value, and we made progress in that regard, and it changes the equation for the future." USSF President Sunil Gulati said, "We’ve always had the most highly compensated women’s team in the world, and this puts them at even higher level." Das notes the new agreement "includes commitments from U.S. Soccer for its continued support" of the NWSL (N.Y. TIMES, 4/6). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Matthew Futterman notes U.S. Soccer "will pay NWSL salaries for national team players who will commit to playing in the league." Women’s players had been "paid just $72,000 to appear in 20 exhibition games per season, with victory bonuses taking that up to a maximum of $99,000" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 4/6).

A WIN-WIN: The AP's Anne Peterson wrote the USWNT "believes its new contract is both fair and good for the future of the sport" (AP, 4/5). In Houston, Jenny Dial Creech writes, "Now there is more reason to cheer for these women." The USWNT has "taken a big step forward for the sport and for the gender." These are "massive steps in the right direction for women in sports." Creech: "These changes are long overdue" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 4/6). The N.Y. TIMES' Das notes players "fine-tuned their needs and their arguments and their solidarity" in "text messages and phone calls, in hotel rooms and on bus rides, and at their homes in far-flung cities" (N.Y. TIMES, 4/6). ESPNW.com's Graham Hays wrote these "were the faces of people pleased with the terms of peace -- not people putting on good faces." USWNT F Alex Morgan said, "We're happy. And I believe U.S. Soccer is as well." It is "easy to see why national team players would be pleased with how the new deal looks." More importantly "is that it was the deal they crafted." It "became clearer and clearer in recent months that it was the players running their side of the show." The result is an agreement that "speaks to a remarkable show of power by female athletes." Hays: "Whether it's a good deal or the best deal matters less in this moment than that it is their deal" (ESPNW.com, 4/5). YAHOO SPORTS' Leander Schaerlaeckens wrote the sides "met in the middle." Schaerlaeckens: "A win, it seems, for everybody" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 4/5). FOXSPORTS.com's Ryan Rosenblatt wrote under the header, "7 Questions Now That The USWNT Players And U.S. Soccer Have Agreed To A New CBA" (FOXSPORTS.com, 4/5).