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Women's soccer players keep up fight for equal pay after talks break down

By
Nicholas Sakelaris
(From L to R) Rose Lavelle, Tobin Heath, Crystal Dunn and Megan Rapinoe of Team USA stand during the U.S. national anthem before the start of a FIFA Women's World Cup match June 28 near Paris, France. File Photo by David Silpa/UPI
(From L to R) Rose Lavelle, Tobin Heath, Crystal Dunn and Megan Rapinoe of Team USA stand during the U.S. national anthem before the start of a FIFA Women's World Cup match June 28 near Paris, France. File Photo by David Silpa/UPI | License Photo

Aug. 15 (UPI) -- The reigning women's World Cup champions walked out of mediation talks Wednesday with the U.S. Soccer Federation as the players hold out for pay equal to their male counterparts.

The talks in New York City ended abruptly after just two days.

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Team members already have filed a lawsuit that cites discrimination in pay and denial of "equal playing, training and travel conditions; equal promotion of their games, equal support and development of their games; and other terms and conditions of employment."

"We entered this week's mediation with representatives of U.S. Soccer full of hope," said Molly Levinson, spokeswoman for the U.S. women's team in its lawsuit. "Today, we must conclude these meetings sorely disappointed in the [U.S. Soccer Federation's] determination to perpetuate fundamentally discriminatory workplace conditions and behavior."

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The two sides agreed to mediation in June just before the World Cup started in France. After the talks broke down Wednesday, two stars of the team made their case on ABC's Good Morning America on Thursday.

"They're the only employer that we could have playing for the national team, we're the only employees that they could have, so for better or for worse we're tethered together," co-captain Megan Rapinoe said on Good Morning America.

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"We won't accept anything less than equal pay. We show up for a game, if we win the game, if we lose the game, if we tie the game, we want to be paid equally, period."

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Player Christen Press said the team members are confident in their case, which goes far beyond the women's soccer team.

"It's actually about women everywhere being treated equally and respectfully in the workplace so if that means that we're going to go to trial then we're going to do that, and we're going to do it very confidently," Press said.

The U.S. Soccer Federation fired back, saying the soccer players were being "aggressive" while presenting false information. The federation released a statement saying it had hoped to resolve the suit during mediation.

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"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 federation said.

The federation cites higher revenue for men's soccer as a reason for the disparity.

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