The United States women's national team has been fighting for months to receive pay equal to the nation's men's team, but the U.S. Soccer Federation insinuated Monday that it's the men who should actually be pushing for equality. Less than a week after Congress for the 2026 FIFA World Cup until the USWNT is paid "fair and equitable wages" compared to the men's team, USSF president Carlos Cordeiro cited Monday an analysis of federation finances suggesting the women have earned millions more than the men over the last decade.
Cordeiro contended in an open letter posted on the U.S. Soccer website that women's players were paid $34.1 million through salaries and bonuses by USSF from 2010-2018, while men were paid $26.4 million over that same time span -- a difference of $7.7 million, or an average of just under $1 million per year. The women's total includes National Women's Soccer League salaries paid by USSF for national team players.
"Just as our WNT players have shared their perspective, I strongly believe that you -- as U.S. Soccer members, stakeholders, sponsors and partners -- deserve to hear ours," Cordeiro wrote. "Now that the Women's World Cup is behind us, a common understanding of key facts will also help advance our shared work to grow women's soccer in America as well as the larger national discussion about equality."
Cordeiro went on to explain that the USSF findings, which were verified by an independent accounting firm, do not include money received by U.S. Soccer for World Cup bonuses. With those included, the men's earnings total from 2010-2018 would be $41 million compared to $39.7 million for the women. He also suggested USSF should not be held responsible for inequities in FIFA prize money, saying he "continues to push FIFA president Gianni Infantino... to increase prize compensation" for the Women's World Cup.
Players on the USWNT have quickly countered Cordeiro's comments.
"This is a sad attempt by the USSF to quell the overwhelming tide of support the USWNT has received from everyone from fans to sponsors to the United States Congress," spokesperson Molly Levinson said, per ESPN. "The USSF has repeatedly admitted that it does not pay the women equally and that it does not believe the women even deserve to be paid equally. This is why they use words like 'fair' and 'equitable,' not 'equal,' in describing pay."
Levinson continued by calling USSF's numbers "utterly false" and said Cordeiro "inappropriately (included) the NWSL salaries of the players to inflate the women's players' compensation."
The men's team, meanwhile, has backed the USWNT's endeavors and called into question Cordeiro's findings about their own earnings.
"The USMNT players were not impressed with U.S. Soccer Federation Carlos Cordeiro's letter made public on Monday," the team said through a statement, as the Wall Street Journal's Rachel Bachman reported Tuesday. "The Federation downplays contributions to the sport when it suits them ... The women's national team players deserve equal pay and are right to pursue a legal remedy from the courts or Congress."