On Tuesday night at the Audi Stadium, quarterback Sam Covey became the 250th player in the history of the US women’s team as she secured her first match in a 2-1 win over Nigeria. She played the full 90 minutes, then stayed on the field with the rest of the team to sign new collective bargaining agreements between the women’s and men’s national teams and the American football team.
Kofi joked in the mixed area after the match, before expressing his gratitude to all the players involved. “Obviously this is a pivotal event, what happened today, and I don’t think it really shocked me, it just happened. When you think about equal pay, it’s something that women’s sports in general have been fighting and continue to struggle for many years.”
Signing the new collective bargaining agreement! pic.twitter.com/sLNu2RAusZ
– US Soccer (@usoccer) 7 September 2022
Coffey is the new kid on the block, but now she’s taking direct advantage of the new CBA, which ensures equal pay and prize money for both WNT and MNT. Coffey has already earned some appearance fees for being called into the previous rosters, but with her debut, her check will now include a performance boost as well. For a win over Nigeria, ranked 46 by FIFA (payouts are greater for matches against competitors ranked in the top 25), that means an additional $5,000 per match only.
When asked how the upcoming USWNT checks have affected her as a rookie player, she replied, “It literally changes her life,” before making another joke about how she’ll need a financial advisor soon enough.
“You hear a lot of horror stories about players bathing on ice in trash cans, living in houses with broken doors and windows. A lot of these things are still happening, but maybe not shedding light. This is incredibly well deserved and long overdue.”
Other players have a much longer history with the CBA process as well as the all-out fight for equal pay. One of those players, Captain Becky Sauerbrunn, who is also the president of the USWNT Players Association, gave a speech on the field before signing.
The captain is speaking. 🎤 pic.twitter.com/neuHkTNHSi
The US Women’s National Soccer Team (USWNT) 7 September 2022
“I wasn’t quite sure that would happen during my career,” Sauerbrunn later said, when asked about the feelings of the night, and the moment she delivered it across the line. She referred to US Soccer President Cindy Barlow-Cohn and their coordination with the men’s national team. “A lot of groups have had to work together, so there is a sense of relief. It was really complicated making sure all the needs were met, and the union was happy with the agreement as well.”
So, if there was one feeling that dominated the rest? “A lot of pride.”
While the NWSL CBA’s signing before the Angel City home opening earlier this season was a bit bundled together for broadcast, Tuesday’s signing looked like it happened as much as you can do from just signing a few cards around a table. . And while American football has signed partnership agreements with both of its top national teams, the focus on women on Tuesday felt earned.
“This is a historic moment,” Kuhn said, when asked why the union would take such a general approach to something it doesn’t usually highlight.
“The amount of time and energy, blood, sweat, and tears we’ve all put into this to make this a reality. We wanted to celebrate. We didn’t just want to check-in to a room no one had seen before, or email it with DocuSign. We wanted to make an event, and celebrate it.” , because I think everyone is as proud of that as they should be.”
Tuesday night felt like a celebration – and a well-deserved celebration – but it was also clear from the players that while they would enjoy the win, there was still work they wanted to do.
According to Sauerbrunn, “the unions are already starting to communicate.” “We have already worked with the FA. They want to know what the CBA looks like and how it works. We are ready to share all our ideas, all of its mechanisms.”
As much as they are willing to work with other federations directly, there is a bigger project for FIFA as well.
“There is a lot from a global perspective, we have the next World Cup next year,” Megan Rapinoe said. “The sponsorship dollars, the amount FIFA puts into that, the whole infrastructure around the global game, I think a lot has to be increased. All the results are there. The 2019 World Cup was amazing, the Euros were great, the Champions League was amazing.”
Rapinoe then turned her attention to the NWSL.
“Locally, Dorina still has a long way to go,” she said. “We are still dealing with a lot of issues that we shouldn’t do. The potential and the starting point that we hope this will provide for the league, as well as for the global game, is enormous.”
But Tuesday night’s moment still seemed surreal to Rapinoe.
“It’s hard to put into words,” she said, echoing so many of her teammates. “We wouldn’t have been able to do what we did without (previous players) laying the foundation and being able to stand on their shoulders.”
In the field, multiple generations of USWNT have mixed. Julie Fode served as MC, but Briana Scurry and Kristine Lilly also represented the ’99ers, along with WNT General Manager Kate Markgrave. Their attendance was appreciated by Sauerbrunn, who also called in former player Parlow Cone for her role on the CBA during her speech.
“Kristen Lilly, who has been there since the beginning, has been the OG when it comes to that kind of thing,” she said. “It’s kind of perfect for them to kind of pass the wand and see us, they said, run with it.”
Rapinoe said it is the first time current players have had the opportunity to celebrate with their predecessors.
“It feels like a full programme, and then we look forward to what this means for the next generation – battles that they can move forward in and continue to grow the sport.”
Kofi inadvertently answered that call a few moments later. She knows she has her own part in the team tradition of pushing for more.
“Now it is our responsibility to keep fighting to help them in any way we can,” she said before making another joke. “We cannot be satisfied with the young players who are reaping all the benefits of now getting equal salaries.”
She got excited about all the guys who fought for equal pay now, and she was just trying to make full use of this time as she intersects with them in the locker room. On Tuesday night, she joined their ranks.
“We are all the way. We are learning from them, and we hope to continue this fight for them.”
(Photo: Brad Smith/ISI Images)