US Soccer guarantees equal pay for men's and women's football teams in world first

The women's team have had markedly more success than the men's, winning the World Cup in 2019 Credit: Associated Press

By Washington DC Producer, Fred Dimbleby

In a world-first for football, the US Soccer Federation has reached a historic agreement to guarantee equal pay for its men's and women's national teams.

As well as earning equal fees for appearances in international matches, the deal will also see World Cup prize money shared between the sides for the next four competitions.

US Soccer President Cindy Parlow Cone called it "a truly historic moment" adding "these agreements have changed the game forever here... and have the potential to change the game around the world".

The President of US Soccer, Cindy Parlow Cone, met with President Biden earlier this year to celebrate Equal Pay Day Credit: Associated Press

The guarantee, part of collective bargaining agreements with the teams, follows years of controversy about unequal pay for the sides who have had markedly different levels of success on the international stage.

The USA Women's team took home their fourth World Cup trophy in the most recent competition in 2019.

Meanwhile, the men's team has never won a World Cup but will appear at the 2022 Qatar World Cup after failing to qualify for the competition in 2018.

In February, a group of women's players settled a gender discrimination lawsuit with the Federation, which included a multi-million dollar payout and a pledge to provide equal pay to the teams.

Women's footballer Becky Sauerbrunn told NBC's Today she was feeling "extreme pride" but added it was "tough to get so... excited about something that we really should have had all along".

The deal is likely to put pressure on the international football world to improve pay for women's teams.

Competitions like the World Cup, run by FIFA, have been criticised for their unequal rates of pay.

In 2019, the winner of the Women's World Cup took home $4 million (£3.2 million) while the winner of the Men's World Cup in 2018 claimed $38 million (£30.6 million).

The men's team will play at the Qatar World Cup in 2022, after failing to qualify for the last competition in 2018 Credit: Associated Press

Walker Zimmerman, a defender for the men's team and a member of the United States National Soccer Team Players Association said: "We hope this will awaken others to the need for this type of change, and will inspire FIFA and others around the world to move in the same direction.”

The deal also levels other aspects of playing life for the teams, giving the men's side access to child care during training camps and matches - a provision that has been available to the women's team for 25 years.

The agreements will keep US national teams at one of the highest levels of pay in the international footballing world.