The U.S. Soccer Federation claims it has paid the women's national team millions of dollars more than the men's team over the span of nearly a decade.
U.S. Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro released an open letter Monday to federation members, explaining a financial breakdown that showed the results of extensive analysis over 10 years of data.
"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 Monday. "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."
U.S. Soccer said its conclusions from the financial study were verified by an independent accounting firm. The analysis found that members of the women's team were paid $34.1 million from 2010-18 in salaries and bonuses, while players on the men's national team were paid $26.4 million by the federation during the same time frame.
The letter states the federation pays members of the women's team a $100,000 base salary and $67,500-$72,500 annually to play in the NWSL. They can also earn bonuses for playing in national-team games, though U.S. Soccer didn’t reveal the financial breakdown for the men’s bonus structure.
Cordeiro notes in the letter that the totals don't include money received by U.S. Soccer from FIFA for World Cup bonuses. If those numbers were taken into account, the men earned $41 million throughout that time period. The women, on the other hand, earned $39.7 million.
For comparison: From 2010-2018, the men reached the round of 16 in 2010 and 2014, but failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. The women finished second in the 2011 tournament, and won in 2015.
The letter comes as the debate around equal pay continues to grow after the USWNT won its fourth World Cup championship in France earlier this month. Twenty-eight members of the women's national team filed a lawsuit over pay disparity against U.S. Soccer in the months leading up to the tournament, and agreed to settle the suit in mediation once the team returned to the United States.
Molly Levinson, a spokeswoman for the players, called the letter "a sad attempt" to silence the overwhelming amount of support the USWNT received from fans, sponsors and the United States Congress after the Women's World Cup.
"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," Levinson said in a statement. "This is why they use words like 'fair' and 'equitable,' not 'equal,' in describing pay.
"The numbers the USSF uses are utterly false, which, among other things, inappropriately include the NWSL salaries of the players to inflate the women's players' compensation. Any apples-to-apples comparison shows that the men earn far more than the women."