Two weeks ago, U.S. Soccer and the United States Women’s National Team Players’ Association announced they had come to terms on a new five-year collective bargaining agreement. The deal came after months of tense negotiations and feuds that occasionally spilled into the public arena.
As first reported by The New York Times, the deal includes a sizable increase in base pay for the players, as well as other benefits. The Equalizer has since learned additional details about the new CBA.
The new agreement, while not explicitly banning turf as a playing surface, does provide provisions to avoid a situation like the cancelled friendly in December 2015. For those who don’t remember, U.S. Soccer cancelled a scheduled match against Trinidad and Tobago in Honolulu after the players discovered large tears in the stadium turf during a pregame walkthrough only one day after Megan Rapinoe tore her ACL on a (grass) practice field in Hawaii that the players called “subpar.”
In 2016, the players’ fight took on a publicly combative tone that included a lawsuit, an EEOC complaint and declarations to wear shirts and temporary tattoos expressing equal pay messages during U.S. events. According to a representative from the players’ association, those tactics brought a lot of positive public attention to the equal pay issue but didn’t necessarily result in “progress at the table.”
In the new year, with new representation, there was an opportunity to hit the “reset button” in negotiations with U.S. Soccer, leading to the deal made earlier this month. That agreement came only a few days after U.S. hockey players won a similar fight with their federation, USA Hockey.
The U.S. Soccer players were “very supportive” of the hockey players’ “courageous” fight for better pay. And while the timing of the two agreements was “serendipitous,” the USWNT players see the two events as part of a broader fight towards equal pay for women.
The new soccer CBA also includes provisions for the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL). While the USWNTPA represents only national team players and cannot negotiate salaries for those outside the national team, the union spent a lot of negotiating capital on getting the league to increase standards and force U.S. Soccer, as the main enforcement body of professional leagues in the United States, to oversee those improvements.
There is a recognition from the union that “the success and the future of the women’s game relies on the NWSL.”
Finally, there is hope for a better coexistence between the league and the federation regarding disruptions to the NWSL season in the future.
“The players don’t want to miss their club games,” said the representative.