U.S. Soccer Could Learn Something from England and [Checks Notes] Brazil (!) on Equal Pay

Megan Rapinoe

Megan Rapinoe
Photo: Getty

In a sign of at least how the women’s game is growing around the world, the Brazilian Football Federation (CBF) announced yesterday that players on both its national teams – women and men – will be paid the same bonuses for appearing for the national team. The announcement also uncovered that the English FA had instituted the same pay structure for both its teams back in January, but hadn’t announced it publicly.


New Zealand, Australia, and Norway have all recently reached agreements or instituted policies that have either equalized pay between the two squads or significantly closed gaps based on prize money percentages, salaries, and the like.

If you’re wondering if this will put more pressure on U.S. Soccer to change how it compensates its women’s squad…well, don’t hold your breath. One, U.S. Soccer never feels pressure because it’s filled with clowns abusing their own nitrous tanks. Two, the structure is very different.


Neither Brazil nor England pays its women’s players a base salary, as a portion or most of the U.S. women’s squad receive. This was the crux of the tossing out of a major portion of the USWNT’s lawsuit against US Soccer back in May. While the U.S. men do get higher bonuses for appearances and wins on the national team, they do not get a yearly salary. At least 39 (17 fully contracted, at least 22 getting Tier 1 and Tier 2 status with their NWSL teams which means a bump in pay) women who appear on the national team do, chosen by the head coach every year, and when that is factored in, the pay gap becomes much closer.

Second, there isn’t a union of Brazil internationals and England internationals as there is for the U.S. women who negotiated the current deal. These changes were simply the FAs of each nation deciding to change their pay structure. U.S. Soccer could do this, but if they were going to it probably would have happened long ago.


Jozy Altidore just misses one against Mexico.
Photo: Getty

Obviously, to simply get rid of the yearly salary structure the women’s team has is not that simple. Their salaries with their club teams don’t come close to matching that of the men’s, which means even if U.S. Soccer paid both sides the same amount in the same way, the women would be losing out on overall compensation for their work with both club and country. Even the U.S. stars everyone knows who earn several hundred thousand a year in salary would definitely notice the $100K disappearing if U.S. Soccer scrapped that salary system. It’s a consideration.


Overall, this won’t equalize what players get for appearing and advancing and winning a World Cup, as those bonuses are drawn from prize money, which remains vastly different for the two competitions. That will stay the case for a while, just based on the difference in payments for sponsorships and television rights for the women’s and men’s World Cup, just for example.

Still, it’s a huge step for the women’s game, as Brazil and England are perhaps the biggest names after the U.S. in the international women’s game, along with France (who’s yet to get on the train). It’ll hopefully act as a spur to get other countries to fall in line with their teams, and grow the game even more.

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