Aug. 20 (UPI) -- All 28 members of the United States Women's National Team will go to trial in May 2020 against the United States Soccer Federation after mediation talks broke down regarding the players' gender discrimination lawsuit.
A spokesperson for the players suing U.S. Soccer confirmed the trial date on Tuesday.
The players and U.S. Soccer initially proposed to take the case to trial in December 2020, before the court set for an expedited schedule.
"We are pleased with the expeditious schedule that has been set by the court and we are eager to move forward with the case," player spokeswoman Molly Levinson said in a statement to UPI. "We very much look forward to the trial in May 2020 when the players will have their day in court.
"We have every confidence that these world champion athletes will get what they legally deserve -- nothing less than equal pay and working conditions."
The players filed the lawsuit on March's International Women's Day, three months before starting its winning run at the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup. They accused the federation of years of "institutionalized gender discrimination" in the lawsuit, which they say impacted their wages and the way they train and compete.
The players filed the lawsuit under the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.
"The [United States Soccer Federation] discriminates against plaintiffs, and the class that they seek to represent, by paying them less than members of the [United States Men's National Team] for substantially equal work and by denying them at least equal playing, training, and travel conditions; equal promotion of their games; equal support and development for their games; and other terms and conditions of employment equal to the [men's team]," the women players said in the lawsuit.
U.S. Soccer has pushed back at the claims, arguing that the women have been paid more than the men on their respective national teams. U.S. Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro released an open letter in July, stating the federation's staff conducted an "extensive analysis" of the federation's financials for the past 10 years. The analysis produced a fact sheet, which was reviewed by an independent accounting firm, according to Cordeiro.
"From 2010 through 2018, U.S. Soccer paid our women $34.1 million in salaries and game bonuses and we paid our men $26.4 million -- not counting the significant additional value of various benefits that our women's players receive but which our men do not," the fact sheet said.
The Fédération Internationale de Football Association, known as FIFA, serves as the international governing body for soccer. FIFA distributes cash that national teams win to their respective federations. Those federations can choose how they disperse the money.
U.S. Soccer's fact sheet did not mention what percentage of the players' compensation was a result of winning a World Cup, the Olympics or most of their friendlies during the analyzed time frame.
Levinson called the fact sheet a "ruse." She contended that U.S. Soccer used salaries from the National Women's Soccer League to inflate the players' national team pay.
"The [federation's] fact sheet is not a 'clarification.' It is a ruse," Levinson said. "This is a sad attempt by [the federation] to quell the overwhelming tide of support the [women's team] has received from everyone from fans to sponsors to the United States Congress.
"Here is what they cannot deny. For every game a man plays on the [men's team] he makes a higher base salary payment than a woman on the [women's team]. For every comparable win or tie, his bonus is higher. That is the very definition of gender discrimination. For the [federation] to believe otherwise, is disheartening but it only increases our determination to obtain true equal pay."
The players walked out of mediation talks with U.S. Soccer on Aug. 14 after just two days. Both sides agreed to mediation in June, just before the World Cup.
"We entered this week's mediation with representatives of U.S. Soccer full of hope," Levinson said. "Today, we must conclude these meetings sorely disappointed in the [federation's] determination to perpetuate fundamentally discriminatory workplace conditions and behavior."
Women's soccer stars Megan Rapinoe and Christen Press appeared on ABC's Good Morning America on Thursday and spoke about the mediation breakdown.
"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.
U.S. Soccer responded by saying the players' counsel took an "aggressive and unproductive approach" after presenting "misleading information."
"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 federation's statement said.
"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.
"We always know there is more we can do. We value our players, and have continually shown that, by providing them with compensation and support that exceeds any other women's team in the world. Despite inflammatory statements from their spokesperson, which are intended to paint our actions inaccurately and unfairly, we are undaunted in our efforts to continue discussions in good faith."
The U.S. women's team has garnered more revenue from its games than the U.S. men's games since the 2015 Women's World Cup. Women's games generated $50.8 million from 2016 through 2018, while the men earned about $49.9 million, according to audited financial statements provided by the U.S. federation.
The 2019 Women's World Cup final drew 22 percent more American viewers than the 2018 Men's World Cup final. The U.S. women's team has won the World Cup eight times, while the U.S. men's team has never advanced to a World Cup final.