US Soccer – By the Numbers

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There have been many articles this past weekend about the US Women’s National Team and their lawsuit against U.S. Soccer for equal pay. There have been many different opinions on this topic, from many different sources, here is what we know, from U.S. Soccer.

We know that the women made over $20 million last year, due mainly to the Victory Tour after the World Cup, and since the fiscal year ends March 31, this also includes the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying and She Believes Tournaments.

They are projecting, in their annual report, that the women will make $8 million more than the men for the 2017 Fiscal Year, with the women’s total revenue projected at $17,588,500 and the men’s at $9,049,500. US Soccer always mentions that these numbers are based on “current and historical trend data for attendance and pricing predictions.”

To fully understand and compare salaries and bonuses between the teams, we must understand the setup of contracts for the women and the men. For instance, the men are paid a base salary by their club teams, then paid per appearance and tournament with the national team. Thus their national team contract is more of a supplemental contract to their club salary. The women, however, are paid their base salary-for their clubs-through US Soccer and then paid again for their National Team participation.

I know you are wondering why this is, it is mostly due to the fact that USSF owns/runs the NWSL and the WNT players are paid to play in the NWSL. If they decide to play overseas, they forfeit their base club salary and will make whatever their club chooses to pay them and add their national team contract.

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Evan Davis compares the salaries of Hope Solo and Carli Lloyd to their counterparts, Tim Howard and Clint Dempsey. In his article, “Women Earn the Glory While Men Earn the Money In U.S. Soccer,” he shows that combined, Hope and Carli make $240,019 each and that Clint makes $428,022 and Tim pulls in $398,495. These numbers are based off of bonuses and the known salaries of the WNT players $72,000 and their NWSL salaries of $54,000.

The numbers for Carli and Hope are what the top players are making for the women, whereas the numbers for Clint and Tim are just what they make from US Soccer, it does not include their club salaries, where most of the top male players are raking in well over the $1 million mark.

The amount spent on the teams differ as well. The women notoriously fly coach, while the men fly business class.  Now, this was part of their previous CBA and will more than likely be a bargaining issue for this next CBA. The women’s team bus has broken down 2 times, the men’s has not. USSF has continuously spent upwards of $5 to $6 million less on the women’s team, except for what is projected for this upcoming fiscal year.

One of the reasons it is so hard to figure out what exactly the women are worth and what exactly they should be paid, is due to the fact that Soccer United Marketing, LLC (SUM) – the body of USSF that handles selling the commercial rights for both the WNT and MNT, as well as MLS – will not disclose the details of their financials and how the money is dispersed. According to Elizabeth Mitchell’s article on Daily Dig’s website, SUM is run by Dan Garber, who not only sits on the Board of Directors for US Soccer but is also the Commissioner for MLS. One of the ways that they sold the rights to the Men’s World Cup was by forcing ESPN and ABC to also pick up MLS games, this was part of the package.

“Once SUM reaches an undisclosed amount of profit on these commercial rights, it splits the rest with US Soccer, with SUM keeping 30%.” Elizabeth goes on to explain that neither SUM or US Soccer will disclose how much money comes back to the federation for the recently inked $720 million, 8-year-deal that SUM agreed to for MLS and national team games.

With little-to-no transparency on their financials and what seems to be little push from USSF to become completely transparent, it’s hard to know if these numbers are accurate. It’s hard to know what the worth of the women truly is and if they are having the revenue they bring in being spent on them at all.

This is going to be an uphill battle, it always has been, the first thing that needs to be done, is to find out the numbers, the true numbers and go from there. The women are paid well less than the men and their contract structure is vastly different. The women have a lot to think about and to demand going into this CBA negotiation. If they can get their actual worth, the solid numbers, US Soccer could be paying out a hefty amount.

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