|The U.S. will have |
When they take on Japan in Thursday's gold medal final, the U.S. women's soccer team will be playing for national pride, Olympic glory, a place in history, and that little something extra: cold, hard cash.
USA Today reported Thursday that U.S. Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati has announced a gold medal victory would result in the team splitting a $1.5 million bonus. That's in addition to the U.S. Olympic Committee's standard $25,000 bonus for each gold medalist, and a possible extension of victory lap exhibitions that could earn the players even more money.
The $1.5 million bonus would be split among players not included on the final 18-woman roster, coaches, and support staff, and might or might not be weighted towards more substantial; contributors. But however the money is divided, with the salaries of most members of the U.S. Women's National Team program only barely scraping above the semi-professional level, the benefits of victory Thursday represent a substantial financial windfall regardless.
"There's a lot of money at stake for the players," Gulati said.
With the 2011 failure of Women's Professional Soccer -- the second American women's pro soccer league to fold in the past decade -- the professional future of many USWNT members remains up in the air. Though several are officially members of the Seattle Sounders Women W-League club (including Hope Solo, Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan, and Sydney Leroux), the steps put in place to help the W-League attract top collegiate talent mean that may not be a viable professional solution in the three-year gap between major tournaments.
None of this will be going through the minds of the players on the field at Wembely Stadium in a few hours, and it's worth noting that the USWNT have already wrapped up a fairly generous amount of money by clinching silver. But if the U.S. does come through with the gold medal, once the adrenaline wears off, that $1.5 million-plus will still provide one heck of an afterglow.
HT: Fourth-Place Medal.