The U.S. women’s national soccer team is playing for the bronze medal at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, but the match also carries significant financial stakes for the players.
On top of the prize money awarded by the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee to athletes who medal, there is also a predetermined bonus as stipulated in the collective bargaining agreement between the players and the U.S. Soccer Federation. The CBA is set to expire at the end of 2021.
It’s up to each country to decide whether to compensate their athletes and how much to compensate them for medal bonuses or other Olympic prizes. The International Olympic Committee does not offer bonuses or prizes, and per the Olympic Charter, participation of athletes in the Olympic Games is not conditional on any financial compensation.
Here’s the breakdown of the money that could be heading the USWNT’s way from the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, the U.S. Soccer Federation medal bonus pool and a post-Olympic match tour:
1. U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee medal bonus money
The USOPC has a medal bonus program called Operation Gold. The program pays out predetermined amounts of money to athletes who achieve gold, silver and bronze at the Olympics and Paralympics. The bonuses are the same for all American medal winners, regardless of sport. The USOPC increased the bonus amounts by 50 percent in 2017:
- Gold: $37,500
- Silver: $22,500
- Bronze: $15,000
Each of the 22 USWNT players would receive $15,000 in the event of a victory over Australia in the brone-medal match.
2. Medal bonus from U.S. Soccer Federation
Each sports governing body in the United States (for soccer, it’s the U.S. Soccer Federation) can create a separate incentive structure for athletes on top of the prize awarded by the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee.
The U.S. Women’s National Team has a collective bargaining agreement with the U.S. Soccer Federation that details the rewards for all 22 players on the Olympic roster.
In addition to a $25,000 roster bonus for making the team, each player also receives the following prize money based on medal finish:
- Bronze medal: $25,000 per player
- Silver medal: $55,500 per player
- Gold medal: $100,000 per player
The USA’s 1-0 defeat to Canada in the Olympic semifinals removed the team from contention for gold and silver medals. It will play for a bronze and the $25,000-per-player bonus Thursday. The team will receive no bonus money if it fails to finish on the podium.
3. Post-Olympic tour
The CBA also stipulates the compensation to players for a post-Olympic tour of four matches to be played in the United States. The money the players will receive for those games is also dictated by Olympic finish:
- Gold: $300,000 per game ($1,200,000 total)
- Silver: $250,000 per game ($1,000,000 total)
- Bronze: $200,000 per game ($800,000 total)
It’s up to the players to determine how to divide the money they receive for the post-Olympic tour. If the team does not medal in Tokyo, the tour will still take place but the player compensation for the four friendlies will be the regular friendly win/draw bonus as outlined in the CBA ($1,750 for a draw, $8,500 for a win).
Total Olympic prize money for bronze medal
The simple math shows that a win in the bronze-medal game would guarantee each USWNT player $101,364, assuming the Olympic tour money is evenly split among the 22 players.
A loss in the bronze-medal match would leave each player with only the $25,000 roster bonus, a difference of $76,364:
- USSF roster bonus: $25,000 per player
- USSF bronze medal: $25,000 per player
- USOPC bronze medal: $15,000 per player
- USSF Olympic tour: $36,364 (as bronze medalists)
- Total bonus money: $101,364
The bonus money would have more than doubled in the case of a gold medal ($217,045) and been nearly 50 percent greater in the case of a silver ($148,094).