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Volume 26 No. 209
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USWNT Sees Sponsors As Crucial In Ongoing Fight For Equal Pay

The USWNT kicked off their five-game victory tour on Saturday against Ireland at the Rose Bowl
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
The USWNT kicked off their five-game victory tour on Saturday against Ireland at the Rose Bowl
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
The USWNT kicked off their five-game victory tour on Saturday against Ireland at the Rose Bowl
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

As the USWNT and the U.S. Soccer Federation "prepare to enter mediation over the gender discrimination lawsuit, the players and their union know how influential sponsors will be," according to Kevin Draper of the N.Y. TIMES. USWNT F Alex Morgan said, "Sponsors are incredibly huge because they put a lot more pressure than we are able to on U.S. Soccer. Especially the sponsors that are already partners with U.S. Soccer." Nike has supported the USWNT's efforts, though it is "not the only U.S. Soccer sponsor to embrace the players' equality campaign." Before the Women's World Cup, Visa announced a five-year sponsorship agreement with the USSF that was "applauded by some soccer fans because Visa executives claimed more than half of the money would support women's soccer." Nike and Visa's "entrance into the equal pay debate stands out, because U.S. Soccer sponsors generally want to avoid taking public stances on contentious issues." P&G brand Secret "became a U.S. Soccer sponsor on March 4," four days before the USWNT filed their lawsuit. After the team's World Cup win, Secret announced it would "donate $529,000" to the USWNT's union. Meanwhile, Budweiser Senior Dir of Marketing Communications Matthew Kohan said that the brewer "did not plan to renegotiate its contract with U.S. Soccer soon." The deal "expires in a few years" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/5).

CLASSIFICATION QUESTION: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Rachel Bachman wrote the USWNT's victory tour is "being affected by the team's ongoing pay dispute." Two days after winning the World Cup, the USSF "announced a five-game victory tour sponsored by Allstate." That was "one game longer than the original four-game plan if the team won the World Cup, which is spelled out in the team's collective bargaining agreement with a set pay rate for each game." This "extra game created a compensation issue." USWNT Players Association Exec Dir Becca Roux said that as of last Friday, the USSF "told players' representatives that they planned to classify" Saturday's game against Ireland as a "friendly, not a 'victory tour' match." For a friendly, players would be "paid about two-thirds less than they would be for the four other games on the victory tour," and each player "would have received $5,250 for a win -- and nothing for a tie or a loss." Games on the "victory tour, in contrast, pay about $15,217 per player" regardless of outcome. On Thursday, USSF "notified team representatives that it would pay the players the victory-tour rate for all five games" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 7/3).

PRESTIGE WORLDWIDE: In L.A., Bill Shaikin noted in '17, the NFLPA "launched a sports marketing venture called Rep Worldwide," which the USWNT signed with and "received an ownership stake in the company." Roux said, "Licensing is a pretty laborious thing to make money out of. But it's also a really great marketing tool." Shaikin noted the USWNT's "collective licensing revenue was $0" in '15, but is expected to top $1M in '19. Rep Worldwide President Steve Scebelo said that the USWNT had 22 licensing deals in place for the World Cup and "agreements with five more companies are pending." Roux said that between 25 and 40 players would be "eligible to share in the licensing revenue." If shared equally, that would "essentially be a bonus of at least $25,000 per player" (L.A. TIMES, 8/3).