U.S. women’s national soccer team captain Becky Sauerbrunn revealed on Sport’s Illustrated’s Planet Fútbol podcast that the team is making progress on the fight for equal pay. The team is in the middle of making negotiations with U.S. soccer and Sauerbrunn hopes that this process will also ease tensions between the players on the men’s and women’s national teams.
“We’re getting closer,” Sauerbrunn told SI’s Grant Wahl. “There are obviously still gaps in certain parts of the CBA [collective bargaining agreement] that we haven’t agreed upon, but ever since we made the concerted effort to change the tone [in late December] … we’ve had 20-plus negotiations where players are present with our negotiating team.”
In the podcast, Sauerbrunn mentioned that the negotiations have been complicated. For example, the pay structures between the men and the women are different when it comes to club pay. U.S. Soccer currently pays the women for representing the national team and it subsidizes their players salaries in the National Women’s Soccer League. The men, on the other hand, receive separate payments from U.S. Soccer and their clubs in the MLS.
Saurbrunn says that the women are not ready to have the same pay structure as the men.
“For so long, the national team has been our source of security for the player pool,” Sauerbrunn said. “The men have their pro teams. The national team has been our ‘pro team’ in quotes. And so for us as a players association, we’re looking forward and saying, ‘O.K., where is the women’s game going? What would be the most beneficial for the program?’
“We’ve thought out of the box, and they’ve accepted a lot of it, and I think that was really difficult for them,” she added. “So I think we have gotten a lot closer on certain parts of the structure than we have in past months.”
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The captain also hopes that these negotiations will foster a better relationship with the men’s national team.
“I think a healing process needs to happen,” she said. “Early on [in USWNT labor talks], it was very much ‘the men make more than the women do, and they probably aren’t as successful.’ And I think that set a really bad tone. There are still bad feelings about that. I think it’s really unfortunate. Because I think if the men did support us, I think that voice, the federation would hear that. The country would hear that. So I hope there comes a point where we can get together … and talk through it.”
To listen to the full podcast, click here.