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USWNT mad at US Soccer...again

What have you done now, US Soccer?

New Zealand v United States Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

UPDATED to accurately reflect the number of turf games in the USWNT schedule.

The US women’s national team seemed to be on better terms with US Soccer after they concluded negotiations on a new collective bargaining agreement. But in an article in the New York Times, it was revealed the players are still dissatisfied with a perceived lack of respect from US Soccer, to whom they made CBA concessions in the understanding that USSF would be more receptive to them in the future.

Backtracking a bit: the USWNT will play four of their last nine games this year on turf. One of those games is the responsibility of Canada Soccer, who picked BC Place in Vancouver as a venue. But those US friendlies are a sticking point for the WNT, who didn’t stipulate in their CBA that all games must be on grass (a logistical impossibility if they want to consider multiple markets and venues), but made concessions during negotiations apparently in order to get more input on where the team plays, as well as more transparency from USSF on their reasoning for picking venues.

According to the NYT article, the players included language in the new CBA that USSF would “consider players association input” on game locations. Now the team says they’re not being heard as they wanted to particularly avoid the turf at the Superdome in New Orleans. They claim that their proposed alternative sites were ignored by USSF; USSF says none of the alternatives were viable options.

Now, US Soccer was probably due to hit the South. In 2017 in the United States they’ve played in the Northeast for Tournament of Nations, Texas, Seattle, California, Denver, and Cincinnati. So somewhere in that New Orleans to Atlanta region seems reasonable. The last time they played in the South was in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta in September 2016. And after picking a market, venue selection can be complicated when you take into account weather and the venue schedule. USSF says the three proposed alternatives all had good reasons for being unavailable, although one of them “being held in reserve as a potential site for a future women’s match” doesn’t seem like a particularly good reason considering the team is asking you to use that site for a match now.

So things seem to still be tender after the protracted CBA fight, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint the team filed over pay disparity is still pending. This has been a long feud, and it’s kind of expected that the WNT would remain suspicious of USSF even after they shook hands. You don’t suddenly trust someone after fighting with them for months, and it’s not unreasonable for the team to think USSF isn’t dealing with them in good faith on the issue given their past treatment. It doesn’t seem to be so much a matter of USSF abiding strictly by the terms of the CBA, but that the WNT once again feels dismissed by their federation.

The team and the federation are scheduled to check in with each other on Monday in Chicago. It doesn’t seem like there’s really a contractual remedy to apply here; after all, USSF has not technically broken the terms of the CBA. But sometimes in a conflict what one party wants is to actually be heard, instead of just mollified so they’ll stop yelling.