The U.S. men’s team returns to the World Cup for the first time since 2014 this week as games begin in Qatar — here’s how much American players are set to earn (spoiler: it gets really interesting only if the team pulls off historic upsets) and how that compares with some other competing countries.
Most of the prize money depends on where the teams finish at the World Cup: FIFA, the event organizer, will dole out $440 million to the 32 national teams, including $9 million each to the 16 teams eliminated at the group stage, $13 million to teams knocked out in the round of 16, followed by escalating amounts that culminate with $30 million to the runner-up and $42 million to the winner.
Each national soccer federation determines how to divvy up that money, but the U.S. payout is already set by a collective-bargaining agreement — and part of the money will go to the U.S. women’s team, even though they’re not playing in the tournament.
The 23 members of the U.S. men’s national team will receive a $10,000 stipend for every game in Qatar, while 90% of whatever FIFA bonus they earn will be distributed equally among the 46 members of the men’s and women’s teams.
That’s a guaranteed payday of $206,000 for each men’s player should the U.S. bow out after its three group stage matches and $822,000 if they win it all.
Considering oddsmakers give the U.S. the 20th-best chance at winning the World Cup out of 32 teams, expect the payout to be on the lower end of the spectrum.
U.S. World Cup Payday Outpaces Peers
|Max Player Payout
|Implied Title Odds
By comparison, South Korea awarded each player a roughly $15,000 bonus for making the team and will pay them about $23,000 for each win and about $8,000 for each draw, team spokesperson Jay Ahn told Forbes in emailed comments. Players will also receive $76,000 bonuses for advancing past the group stage and $150,000 in bonuses for reaching the quarterfinals, for a total of about $390,000 should the Korean team miraculously win all of its matches.
German players will earn bonuses of about $415,000 with a World Cup championship, team spokesperson Franziska Wülle told Forbes, with a roughly $52,000 bonus per player should Germany make it to the round of 16.
Denmark’s players earn a bonus of $124,000 for making the team and can take home as much as $688,000 should the team win it all, according to the Danish players association’s website.
Australian players get a roster bonus of about $150,000 and split a 50% share of any further prize money, putting total potential compensation at about $680,000, according to a report in the Sydney Morning-Herald.
Perhaps no compensation will top the unique bonus Senegalese players earned for qualifying for the World Cup by winning the Africa Cup of Nations in February. Each player received a $87,000 cash prize and 700 square meters of land in the country’s capital Dakar and its suburbs.
U.S. Soccer’s unique pay structure, awarding some of the prize money from Qatar to its women’s team, comes after the yearslong high-profile labor dispute over the higher pay for the American men’s team despite the women’s team’s long history of outshining the men on the international stage. FIFA’s controversial decision to tap Qatar as the site of the 2022 World Cup a decade ago allegedly came after FIFA took bribes from the Qatari government. The decision remains highly contentious, with the disgraced former head of FIFA calling the Qatar selection a “mistake” last week. Critics point to the country’s lack of human rights for certain groups—homosexuality is illegal and women need permission from male guardians to drive or travel abroad—though efforts to boycott the tournament did not pick up much steam. Qatar spent at least $220 billion on the World Cup, making it by far the most expensive World Cup ever. Thousands of migrant worker deaths are linked to the massive construction undertaken for the tournament.
By Derek Saul, Forbes Staff