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US women's soccer team set for mediation with governing body over discrimination lawsuit

Lawyers for the players filed a lawsuit in March demanding equal pay and conditions to their male counterparts.

THE UNITED STATES Soccer Federation and the country’s women’s national team are set to enter mediation after the World Cup to settle a discrimination lawsuit, the Wall Street Journal reported today.

Citing people familiar with the negotations, the Journal reported that both sides had reached tentative agreement for mediation aimed at resolving the dispute between the USSF and 28 members of the US national team.

Soccer: Womens World Cup-USA at Sweden The USA team pictured before last night's win against Sweden at the Women's World Cup. Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

Lawyers for the women’s players filed a lawsuit on 8 March demanding equal pay and conditions to their less successful male counterparts, stating that the governing body had “utterly failed” to promote gender equality.

The women’s legal team contacted US Soccer after the start of the World Cup in France to float the possibility of mediation talks, the Journal reported. US Soccer confirmed the federation had agreed to enter mediation, the report added.

“While we welcome the opportunity to mediate, we are disappointed the plaintiffs’ counsel felt it necessary to share this news publicly during the Women’s World Cup and create any possible distraction from the team’s focus on the tournament and success on the field,” a US Soccer spokesman said.

“We look forward to everyone returning their focus to the efforts on the field as we aim to win another title.”

If successful, the mediation could finally settle a long-running standoff between US Soccer and the country’s most successful team.

Five members of the women’s team filed a pay discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2016.

The lawsuit filed in March argued for millions of dollars in back-pay and damages and an end to inequalities compared to men relating to venues, number of matches, medical treatment, coaching and training opportunities and transportation.

“The USSF, in fact, has admitted that it pays its female player employees less than its male player employees and has gone so far as to claim that ‘market realities are such that the women do not deserve to be paid equally to the men,” the lawsuit said.

“The USSF admits to such purposeful gender discrimination even during times when the (women) earned more profit, played more games, won more games, earned more championships, and/or garnered higher television audiences.”

The USSF later said the body had been caught cold by the lawsuit, insisting it believed “all female athletes deserve fair and equitable pay.”

© – AFP, 2019

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