The U.S. women’s national team (USWNT) will have extra reason to cheer on its male counterparts in the final 16 of the 2022 World Cup beyond the usual patriotic duty.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Soccer Federation and the women’s team announced a deal that ended a six-year battle over equal pay.
As part of the deal, U.S. soccer committed to providing an equal rate of pay for both the men’s and women’s national teams – including World Cup bonuses.
The men’s national team is now guaranteed a prize of $13 million after its 1-0 win against Iran on Tuesday secured them a place in the final 16, meaning the USWNT will take a $6.5m cut.
If the men win their match against the Netherlands on Saturday to reach the quarter-finals, they’ll be taking home a minimum of $17 million.
The 2022 tournament’s champions will pocket $42 million – more than what was collectively won by all the teams who participated in the 2019 Women’s World Cup.
The total prize money for the last women’s tournament – which the U.S. won – was $30 million. USWNT received $4 million of that fund for defending their championship title.
For winning the 2015 World Cup, the U.S. women’s team was awarded $2 million – meaning they will earn more from their share of the $13 million prize the men’s squad is guaranteed to win this year than they did from two of their own World Cup wins.
Soccer's gender pay gap
Despite making progress with the agreement, a huge disparity still exists between earnings for female and male soccer players, with World Cup prize funds serving as a prime example of the sport’s glaring gender pay gap.
Even after the women’s prize money was drastically hiked in 2018, the amount up for grabs by teams competing in the 2019 Women’s World Cup was still just 7.5% of the total amount won by their male counterparts at the 2018 competition in Russia.
Winning men's side France took home $38 million when they became 2018 world champions, but they were guaranteed to earn more from the start of the competition than the U.S. Women’s team secured with their own triumph a year later.
Just qualifying for the men’s World Cup in 2018 guaranteed a team $8 million, and in this year’s competition in Qatar, qualifiers already had $9 million of the prize money in the bag.
In 2019, the maximum earnings for a female player in the World Cup were $260,869, according to calculations by The Guardian newspaper – an amount that was completely dwarfed by a male player’s maximum potential World Cup earnings of $1,114,429, depending on where their team places in the event.
With the prize fund for male players increasing in 2022, that disparity will be even bigger now.
The U.S. women’s soccer team has won four World Cups since the tournament’s inception in the 1980s, while the men haven’t gotten to a semifinal since 1930.
After winning the 2019 World Cup, team captain Megan Rapinoe said it was time to move on from questions over whether her team was “worth” funding and pay equivalent to the male team.
“I think we are done with the questions like 'should we have equal pay?'," she said. "Let's get to the next point of 'what's next?'.”
Her comments came after crowds watching the final in France chanted “Equal pay! Equal pay!” as the American team secured its second consecutive World Cup victory.
The next Women’s World Cup, hosted by Australia and New Zealand, will be in 2023.
In 2019, FIFA President Gianni Infantino said he wanted to double the prize money again so that the total fund in the 2023 tournament was worth $60 million – but he also suggested expanding the event to involve 32 teams instead of 24, meaning there will be more sides to divide the money amongst.
A spokesperson for FIFA was not immediately available for comment when contacted by Fortune.
This story was originally featured on Fortune.com
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