U.S. Soccer President Says Historic Equal Pay Agreement Will 'Lead to Meaningful Changes' in Society

New collective bargaining agreements will include equal division of World Cup bonuses for the men and women

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U.S. women's national soccer team. Photo: Getty

This week, the United States Soccer Federation, United States Women's National Team Players Association and United States National Soccer Team Players Association agreed to historic collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) that will include equal division of World Cup bonuses for the men and women players.

Celebrating the milestone, Cindy Parlow Cone, U.S. Soccer president, said she's feeling extremely proud after spending over 20 years fighting for equal pay.

"This wouldn't have been possible if we weren't able to get all three groups at the table," Cone said during a press conference, specifically praising the men for "stepping forward" and making the agreement happen.

"This is just a really historic moment that will hopefully lead to meaningful changes and progress not only here at home in the U.S. but around the world," she added. "I think this will not only impact soccer but impact sport in general as well as society. I'm really proud of what we've achieved together."

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Under the new agreements, 90 percent of the men's and women's World Cup prize money will be put into a pool and split evenly among the two national teams. The CBAs will go into effect on June 1 and last until 2028.

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U.S. women's national soccer team after World Cup win in 2019. Alex Grimm/Getty Images

Though there is a possibility for the men's soccer players to receive less compensation than in the past, Walker Zimmerman, U.S. Men's National Team defender, said it was the "right thing to do" when looking at the bigger picture.

"We recognize that sure, there was a potential chance of making less money, no doubt about it," he said. "But we also believe so much in the women's team and the whole premise of equal pay and ultimately that was a big driving force for us — to do something that no other team had done before and really try to do this together."

Zimmerman said the journey has been long, adding, "Difficult conversations, a lot of listening and learning, and ultimately we came to this historic CBA and we're really proud of it and we'll be each other's biggest cheerleaders. I can't wait to watch the women in the 2023 World Cup and I know they'll be cheering us on in 2022 in Qatar."

The agreement also covers other areas such as child care, parental leave, short-term disability, mental health impairment, travel, safe work environment, scheduling predictability, and equal quality of venues and field playing surfaces.

RELATED VIDEO: Abby Wambach Says USWNT Equal Pay Victory Is a 'Huge Deal' for 'Women Everywhere'

The update comes less than three months after the USWNT reached a settlement with the U.S. Soccer Federation back in February, following a six-year fight for equal pay.

In a joint statement released and obtained by PEOPLE at the time, the two organizations confirmed that they'd reached an agreement in a class action gender discrimination lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by multiple stars of the World Cup winning team in 2019. Under the agreement, U.S. Soccer agreed to pay $22 million to the USWNT players.

Additionally, U.S. Soccer was set to pay $2 million to the USWNT players specifically for post-career goals and charitable efforts, according to a press release from the governing body.

"We are pleased to announce that, contingent on the negotiation of a new collective bargaining agreement, we will have resolved our longstanding dispute over equal pay and proudly stand together in a shared commitment to advancing equality in soccer," the statement from U.S. Soccer and the USWNT read, in part.

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In a recent, exclusive interview with PEOPLE about her podcast We Can Do Hard Things with wife and author Glennon Doyle, retired soccer star Abby Wambach opened up about her reaction to the USWNT's legal victory over the U.S. Soccer Federation in February.

Wambach, 41, told PEOPLE last week that the greater impact is far larger than this one case.

"It's a huge deal because it's also not just a statement for this team and soccer," she said. "This is a statement for women everywhere."

She added that women in any industry can benefit from the verdict: "Another woman looking at an article, or hearing or reading this can think to themselves, 'Wait, am I getting paid the same as my male counterparts? How should I figure that out?' "

"I'm so happy for them," Wambach told PEOPLE, though the change came after her own career on the field ended in 2015. "I feel 5% jealous that I wasn't on the team when this equal pay settlement happened. But the truth is, things happen when they're meant to happen."

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