Andy Scholes walks through US Soccer’s landmark equal pay deal with the owners.
“We’re talking about making a game better than people have seen before,” is how USSF President Sunil Gulati described the agreement that was announced at the USSF board meeting in May.
To be clear, that’s the only way to understand it. This isn’t about paying all the players the full amount on the books, which is what happens in the Major League Soccer, the National Women’s Soccer League and the United Soccer League. This is about paying 100 percent, and they called it a “fair market value.” The league also stated that the agreed-upon compensation would be in a separate form from the players’ current contracts.
And it’s a unique structure. USSF took a different approach than MLS, which was about paying players their current salaries and moving forward with their player contracts. MLS, as of last summer, had only just released its long-term labor agreement with the players, and USSF has had the equivalent process for over 150 years. It has been a long time coming, which is why it matters.
The difference is that MLS has had a “no-movement” policy, where players are locked into one of several contracts with different financial and roster constraints. MLS did an excellent job on that front in 2017, with the average salary for the league’s 16 players, which is the number used in the new collective bargaining agreement, jumping over the average in the four previous years. Since the league didn’t move any players, it was able to bring the salary cap up higher and set its salary cap floor at $60 million in the new CBA. (See the most recent USSF FAQ release for more on that.)
USSF and MLS have now set the precedent that the league would like to set for its 100-plus players who are on current contracts.
According to Chris Dempsey of the LA Times, USSF agreed to a total compensation package that will cover the next 20 years of USSF/MLS players:
All players on current