They won the World Cup on Sunday, and now it’s time for the U.S. women’s soccer team to score some serious endorsements.
Indeed, many players on the U.S. Women’s National Team have already been bridging the widely reported gender pay gap in soccer via sponsorship deals.
Take forward Alex Morgan, who went viral for her pantomime of sipping tea after scoring against England in the World Cup semifinal. She earns a $450,000 salary playing for the National Women’s Soccer League in Portland, but her endorsements from companies like Nike NKE, -0.50% , McDonald’s MCD, -0.03%, Coca-Cola COKE, -0.52% and Panasonic PCRFY, -1.34% 6752, -0.95% will bump her 2019 earnings to $1 million, Money.com projects.
And sports agents and marketing experts tell MarketWatch that now’s the time for these women to explore whatever endorsement deals, speaking engagements and social-media campaigns come their way. They need these deals to secure their financial futures while waging a pay-equity battle against the U.S. Soccer Federation, claiming that they earn just 38 cents on the dollar compared with the men’s team.
“These women are the best at their sport in the world, not once but twice with World Cup victories in 2015 and 2019,” said Andrew Lafiosca of Nielsen Sports Americas. “There is a commercial opportunity for each player now, whether it’s through camps and clinics, speaking appearances or endorsements, because their story is simply amazing and there are a lot of people that want to hear it.” (The U.S. team also won Women’s World Cup trophies in 1991 and 1999.)
Molly Fletcher, one of the first female sports agents, told MarketWatch that the U.S. players’ agents were probably already wheeling and dealing before the World Cup tournament even started.
“We live in a world of ‘What have you done for me lately?’ So you want to be ready the moment that that win happens,” said Fletcher, who has represented pro golfer Matt Kuchar, former major-league pitcher John Smoltz and Fox’s Erin Andrews. “A good agent would have been way out ahead of this with a branding plan anticipating this [victory], and how to leverage [new] endorsement deals and to capitalize on the ones you have now.”
So what has becoming World Cup champs won them in terms of bonuses and marketability?
It’s difficult to determine just how much each player is taking home, since some payments are not disclosed, and different players get different salaries and bonuses from their various leagues and sponsors.
But each player is awarded about $250,000 in qualifying, roster and victory bonuses, the New York Times reported. On top of that, once Luna Bar learned that the Women’s World Cup roster bonus is $31,250 less than the men’s, the brand donated the difference to each USWNT player. And National Women’s Soccer League bonuses increased 5% this year to max out at $46,200. Money.com projected that the top players — household names like Morgan, Megan Rapinoe and Julie Ertz — could earn more $400,000 overall this year when combining salaries and bonuses, before factoring in endorsements.
As for those lucrative sponsorships, Stacy Jones, CEO of the marketing agency Hollywood Branded, told MarketWatch that social-media campaigns could earn star players anywhere from $25,000 to $250,000.