The U.S. Women’s National Team’s quest for a new labor agreement, and better pay for the reigning World Cup champions, has reached an impasse.
Mediation talks between the USMNT and the U.S. Soccer Federation broke down on Wednesday, paving the way for the two sides to go to trial in a federal court.
“We entered this week’s mediation with representatives of USSF full of hope. Today we must conclude these meetings sorely disappointed in the Federation’s determination to perpetuate fundamentally discriminatory workplace conditions and behavior,” Molly Levinson, spokesperson for the USWNT said.
Levinson also said the players “eagerly look forward to a jury trial.”
U.S. Soccer also released a statement as well, saying they were hoping for more progress during mediation and that they still hope to come to a resolution without the need for a trial.
“We have said numerous times that our goal is to find a resolution, and during mediation we had hoped we would be able to address the issues in a respectful manner and reach an agreement,” the statement read. “Unfortunately, instead of allowing mediation to proceed in a considerate manner, plaintiffs’ counsel took an aggressive and ultimately unproductive approach that follows months of presenting misleading information to the public in an effort to perpetuate confusion.”
The USSF has been spreading information of its own. Late last month, The federation released figures that claim USWNT players make even more money than their male counterparts. The basis for the claim centered around the fact that the structure of the USWNT’s labor agreement provides a guaranteed salary to the team’s players, along with funding NWSL salaries as well, while USMNT players do not received guaranteed compensation, and MLS salaries are not funded by U.S. Soccer.
USWNT star Megan Rapinoe made the rounds on morning television on Thursday morning after the talks broke down. She appeared on both ABC’s “Good Morning America” and NBC’s “Today” and basically said any discussion would have to start with equal pay or there would be no progress.
“We’re always open to hearing that conversation if they’re ready to have it,” Rapinoe said on the Today show. “That’s the only federation we can play for. We’re the only team that they have. So we’re sort of tethered together in that way. But at any point if they want to have a serious conversation and are willing to not only talk about paying us equally and valuing us in that way, but actually doing it and showing us that they’ll do it, our ears are always open.”
The U.S. Men’s National Team has shown its support for the women through .a statement of its own.
“The members of the United States National Soccer Team Players Association once again stands with the members of the world champion Women’s National Team in their pursuit of fair compensation for their work as professional soccer players. The USMNT players were not impressed with U.S Soccer Federation president Carlos Cordeiro’s letter made public on Monday. The Federation downplays contributions to the sport when it suits them. This is more of the same.”
The fight for equal pay is nothing new for the USWNT, but it took center stage during their run to winning the 2019 Women’s World Cup, gathering a lot of support from fans, who chanted in favor of their cause during the team’s victory parade in New York City in July.
The two sides agreed to mediation after the World Cup and tried to keep the time and place of the negotiations under wraps. It was only revealed late Wednesday night that talks had been ongoing and that they had, in fact, broken down.
The next step for the USWNT is taking its fight to court. The players have already filed suit in a California district court and the 28 players listed on the suit are prepared for a trial, the team said in a letter to the Federation dated August 12
“For both parties, the risk of not resolving our disagreements over equal treatment that were not addressed either in bargaining or through the EEOC is too high,” the letter said. “U.S. Soccer’s reputation, sponsor relations, fan support and federal funding for the 2026 World Cup tournament are all at risk, and that risk continues should we not reach resolution. We have demonstrated that we can perform at high levels on the field even while pursuing equality off the field, but it is certainly not what we want to continue to go through with a new coach and the upcoming Olympic Games if a resolution is possible.
“While we are prepared to take our equal pay fight through a trial if necessary, we believe that both sides would benefit from an equal pay and equal working conditions settlement now.”
No court date has been set and neither has another round of mediation.