Update: added US Soccer’s response below
After the US women’s national team agreed to mediation with US Soccer over the equal pay dispute, there seemed to be some hope that the two parties could come to an agreement without having to enter a courtroom. At the New York parade celebrating the team’s World Cup win, both Carlos Cordeiro and Megan Rapinoe said conciliatory things on stage, with Rapinoe thanking him for his support during the tournament and telling the crowd, “I think he’s gonna make things right.”
Since then, the details coming to light about how USSF has approached the issue have painted a less chummy picture, with Politico reporting that the federation hired two D.C. lobbying firms to give lawmakers information that said USSF was not underpaying the WNT.
Today, the New York Times reported that mediation had broken down after several days of meetings in NYC.
Molly Levinson, a spokesperson for the players, issued the following statement:
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. It is clear that USSF, including its Board of Directors and President Carlos Cordeiro, fully intend to continue to compensate women players less than men. They will not succeed. We want all of our fans, sponsors, peers around the world, and women everywhere to know we are undaunted and will eagerly look forward to a jury trial.
In the same statement, Levinson included a long letter the players sent to the US Soccer board of directors before mediation dated August 12, in which the players recounted the history of pay disputes over the years that led them to this point, and reaffirmed their desire for a resolution through mediation. Part of the letter is quoted below:
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. 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.
US Soccer released this response:
Updated statement from US Soccer on mediation talks with USWNT players breaking down: pic.twitter.com/F7qFsqTcx0— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) August 15, 2019
What’s next? Federal court, it looks like.