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USWNT achieves equal pay with new labor deal

(Jesse Louie/Just Women’s Sports)

The U.S. women’s and men’s national soccer team have closed the pay gap between the sides with new labor deals announced Wednesday.

With the landmark collective bargaining agreements, the United States becomes the first country to achieve equal pay for its men’s and women’s soccer teams, according to the U.S. Soccer Federation. Both agreements run through 2028.

Notably, the deals stipulates equal FIFA World Cup prize money for the women’s and men’s teams. Both teams will pool their World Cup bonuses and split them evenly, helping to bring balance to FIFA’s still gender-imbalanced payouts.

U.S. Soccer president Cindy Parlow Cone advocated for such a split when speaking with Just Women’s Sports last November.

“Until FIFA actually equalizes their own prize money, I would love for the men’s team and the women’s team to come together with U.S. Soccer to find a solution,” Parlow Cone said. “My ideal vision is for FIFA to equalize not only the World Cup prize money, but to equalize their investment in the women’s and girls’ game.

“But until FIFA equalizes it, it’s up to us. And by us, I mean U.S. Soccer, the women’s team and the men’s team coming together to find a solution.”

As of late March, equalizing the FIFA prize money had been the biggest holdup in negotiations.

For the next World Cup competitions, 10 percent of the prize money will be given to the federation. For the 2026/2027 competitions, 20 percent will be paid to USSF. The rest will be divided equally amongst the two teams.

For tournaments that are not the World Cup but are effectively the same for men and women – think Gold Cup and W Gold Cup – 70 percent of the prize money will be pooled and split between the two teams in the same manner.

With the new deal, the USWNT players are giving up guaranteed contracts to shift to a pay-for-play structure like the men. The number of players on guaranteed contracts was at 16 before the new CBA. Instead, USWNT players will receive appearance fees and game bonuses for training camp and game participation.

“The way that this new CBA is structured, we’ve increased the amount of risk with your paycheck,” Midge Purce, a member of the USWNTPA CBA committee, told The Athletic. But increases in NWSL salaries have helped soften the blow of the money now coming on a per-game basis.

“The ability to do that has come a lot from the strength that the NWSL has gained in the past few years,” Purce told ESPN. “We have a strong enough league here at home where we can depend on those salaries a little bit more and leave a little more risk up to the national team. And I think that’s really helped free up that risk.”

There’s also more incentive to schedule better opponents for friendlies. In USSF-controlled matches, for opponents ranked in the top 25 of FIFA’s rankings, players will receive $18,000 for a win, $12,000 for a draw and $8,000 for a loss. The amounts are less for all other opponents – $13,000 for a win, $10,000 for a draw and $8,000 for a loss.

In addition to the shift, an equal number of players will be named to men’s and women’s gameday rosters, increasing the majority of USWNT rosters to 23 players from the usual 18. That means that in addition to the better bonuses, more players will have the opportunity to earn them.

The increase in pay means that, according to USA Today, the USWNT players who participate in this summer’s World Cup qualifying tournament could earn up to $120,000 – a 68 percent increase from 2018.

One big step toward equal distribution of earnings, according to USMNT center back Walker Zimmerman, came when the men’s players sat down with the women’s players as they attempted to negotiate their contract.

“I would say that’s when the reality hit,” he told The Athletic. “Like, ‘Yeah, this is what we need to do, this is what has to happen to grow the game beyond just the men’s team and the women’s team, but to grow it at the grassroots level.’

“I think that’s kind of what sold it at the end of the day, is that this is what’s right and that this is an opportunity to do what no other national team has done.”

As a first for both national teams, U.S. Soccer will now share a portion of broadcast, apparel and sponsorship revenue. That share will then be divided equally amongst the two teams. A set number will be given per ticket sold at home games controlled by the federation, with a 10 percent bonus for sell-outs. As for commercial revenues, once the threshold of earnings hits $55 million, each national team will receive 10 percent. If that number surpasses $75 million, each team will receive 15 percent.

With the ratification of the new CBA, the USWNT’s equal pay lawsuit settlement can now be resolved following approval from both the players and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Improved working conditions for both sides have been included in the new contracts. Childcare will be provided to USMNT players – something which has been included for the women for more than 25 years. Additionally, field surfaces, staffing, travel and accommodations will be equitable.

In a statement, USWNTPA president Becky Sauerbrunn called the accomplishments a testament “to the incredible efforts of WNT players on and off the field.”

“We hope that this agreement and its historic achievements in not only providing for equal pay but also in improving the training and playing environment for National Team players will similarly serve as the foundation for continued growth of women’s soccer both in the United States and abroad,” she said.

Parlow Cone, who has been largely instrumental in getting a deal done and was supported by USWNT players in her re-election campaign against former president Carlos Cordeiro, called the moment “historic.”

“These agreements have changed the game forever here in the United States and have the potential to change the game around the world,” she said in a statement. “U.S. Soccer and the USWNT and USMNT players have reset their relationship with these new agreements and are leading us forward to an incredibly exciting new phase of mutual growth and collaboration as we continue our mission to become the preeminent sport in the United States.”

Clark, Martin Square Off in First Pro WNBA Matchup

Kate Martin #20 of the Las Vegas Aces and Caitlin Clark #22 of the Indiana Fever look on during the game
Things looked a little different Saturday night as the former Iowa teammates went head-to-head in Las Vegas. (Jeff Bottari/NBAE via Getty Images)

Former Iowa teammates Caitlin Clark and Kate Martin shared the court once again on Saturday, this time as professionals.

It was Martin’s Aces that got the 99-80 win over Clark’s Fever in Las Vegas. The pair's former coaches Lisa Bluder, Jan Jensen, Jenni Fitzgerald, and Raina Harmon were all in attendance to watch their Hawkeyes — Clark, Martin, and former national player of the year Megan Gustafson — take the court.

"It’s super special. It’s cool for our program, cool for Lisa, for Coach Jan, for all of them," Clark said in a pregame press conference. "They’ve known me since I’ve been 13 years old and now I’m 22 getting to live out my dream and they’ve been a huge part of that and helping me get here and helping Megan and Kate to get here too. It’s a great moment for them and I’m sure they’re not complaining about a trip to Vegas."

As for her college teammate, Clark had nothing but good things to say ahead of the showdown. 

"I’m just really happy for her and everything Coach [Becky] Hammon says about her is so true," she said. "Every person that played at Iowa and was around her knows that to be true. She’s the ultimate teammate, ultimate person, ultimate leader."

In the end, Martin stole the show with 12 points and seven rebounds in 22 minutes, while Clark amassed eight points, seven assists, and five rebounds over 29 minutes of playing time. 

"It was weird," Martin admitted after the game. "I'm not going to lie — just looking out on the court and seeing her in a different jersey than me, it was obviously different. But it's really fun. We're both living out our dreams right now."

The Aces next meet the fever on July 2nd at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Barcelona Beat Lyon to Win Back-to-Back Champions League Titles

Barcelona's Aitana Bonmatí and Alexia Putellas celebrating after beating Lyon at the 2024 Champions League final
Ballon d'Or winners Aitana Bonmatí and Alexia Putellas helped Barcelona to a second-straight UWCL title on Saturday. (Ramsey Cardy - Sportsfile/UEFA via Getty Images)

Barcelona was crowned champion of the Champions League on Saturday with a 2-0 win over Lyon in Bilbao.

Alexia "La Reina" Putellas, who recently re-signed with Barcelona, came off the bench to score the team's second goal. Fellow Ballon d’Or winner Aitana Bonmatí provided the team’s first. After the game, defender Lucy Bronze said Putellas was nicknamed "the queen" for a reason.

"Alexia is the captain of the team and she's the queen of Barcelona for a reason,"  defender Lucy Bronze told DAZN. "She's got the quality to do that in the last minute of the Champions League final when we were up against it at the end and it just sealed the win for us. It was amazing."

The victory marked Barcelona's first win over Lyon in a UWCL final, having previously gone up against the French side at both the 2019 and 2022 Champions League finals. It's also Barcelona's second Champions League title in a row.

"It's hard to win it once, but to do it back-to-back, Lyon showed how difficult it is and this team has finally done that," Bronze said. "I think we go down in history as one of the best teams in Europe."

This season, the team also secured a quadruple for the first time in club history, having already won Liga F, the Copa de la Reina, and the Spanish Supercopa. The win ensures that coach Jonatan Giráldez — who has officially departed the team to join the NWSL's Washington Spirit — leaves Europe a champion.

"It was an incredible game. I am really happy, it's one of the best days of my life for sure," Giráldez told broadcaster DAZN after the game. "We did an amazing job. I am very proud of all of them."

Following the win, Putellas said her team "can't ask for anything else."

"Our objective was to win four out of four," the Spain international told reporters. "We have achieved everything we wanted. Every minute of sacrifice has been worth the effort — and I'd say that not after the game, but before, just entering in the stadium, with all the support we had here, it was worth it."

2024 Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year Aitana Bonmatí said that the crowd support made it "feel like Camp Nou."

"I am on cloud nine right now," she said. "It is an historic day which we will remember forever."

Sun’s Alyssa Thomas Ejected After Flagrant 2 on Sky Rookie Angel Reese

Angel Reese said there were "no hard feelings" stemming from Alyssa Thomas's flagrant foul. (Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Angel Reese might have gotten knocked down on Saturday, but she got right back up again. 

Connecticut’s Alyssa Thomas was ejected from the Sun’s 86-82 win over Chicago following a flagrant foul 2 on Reese — the first of her career. While the two were battling for a rebound, Reese took a clothesline hold around the neck courtesy of Thomas before hitting the ground.

After the game, Reese told reporters that there were "no hard feelings" and she appreciated Thomas for playing her hard beneath the basket.

"I know she purposely probably didn’t do it towards me," Reese said. "But just being able to come out there and just be strong and stand on two feet, it was going to be a tough game and that’s what I’m built for. And my teammates had my back throughout the whole game. So I was prepared for it."

She also didn’t buy into the idea that it was a "Welcome to the WNBA" moment, but thanked Thomas "sending a message" because it helped her get back up and "keep pushing."

"It’s not just because I’m a rookie. I’m a player. I’m a basketball player. They don’t give a damn if I’m a rookie. I mean, I want them to come at me every day. I want them to come at everybody," she added. "I mean, they’re not supposed to be nice to me. I hope y’all know that. They’re not supposed to be nice to me or lay down because I’m Angel Reese or because I’m a rookie."

Reese finished the game with 13 points, five rebounds, and two assists over 33 minutes.

Barcelona to Face Lyon in Champions League Rematch This Weekend

UEFA Women's Champions League Final"Barcelona FC - Olympique Lyonnais"
Saturday's game will be the third UWCL final meeting for Barcelona and Lyon, having previously gone up against each other in 2019 and 2022. (ANP via Getty Images)

The UEFA Women's Champions League final kicks off in Bilbao on Saturday, with a couple of familiar foes set to face off for the trophy.

Olympique Lyonnais Féminin, making its 11th final appearance since 2010, will go head to head with a Barcelona side making its fourth final appearance in a row.

This will be the third time these two teams meet in the UWCL title game, having previously appeared in the 2019 and 2022 finals. Lyon won both of those prior games against Barcelona, alongside a total of eight Champions League trophies. That’s double that of any other club, with Eintracht Frankfurt coming in a distant second with four. 

Should Barcelona win, this would be the team's third title — breaking a tie for the third in the UWCL total titles race. 

But as these teams return to the UWCL final, it also marks the end of an era for both clubs. The game will be the last for both club managers, as Barcelona’s Jonatan Giráldez and Lyon’s Sonia Bompastor depart for new jobs after the season's end.

Giráldez is set to leave for the NWSL's Washington Spirit, while Bompastor will take over for incoming USWNT coach Emma Hayes at Chelsea. Both coaches have earned one UWCL trophy during their tenures, while Bompastor also brought two Champions League trophies to Lyon as a player. She was the first coach to win a UWCL trophy as both a coach and player.

This season, Barcelona is looking for its first quadruple, having won a fifth Liga F title alongside the Copa de La Reina, and the Spanish Supercopa. 

"We hope he can go out with the four trophies because we know how competitive and ambitious he is," Barcelona midfielder Patri Guijarro told ESPN. "It has been a winning era with him in charge and for him to go out with all four trophies would be historic and incredible."

But Lyon's Damaris Egurrola is excited about her team's chances of overcoming Barcelona once again — and to do it in front of family and friends.

"Lyon have something special," she told Forbes ahead of the weekend's final. "We have a great team and we have the players with enough talent to win any match."

The game will be a homecoming for Egurrola, who began her professional career with Athletic Bilbao.

"I’ve been thinking of this day and night," she said. "I’ve been dreaming of playing this match. Having the opportunity to play in San Mames is amazing. This is where it all started for me."

The UEFA Women's Champions League final kicks off Saturday, May 25th at 12 PM ET and is free to stream on DAZN.

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