Megan Rapinoe says the onus is on her employer after mediation talks between the US women’s national team and US Soccer broke down on Wednesday night.
In March, 28 players from the World Cup champions filed a lawsuit against their own governing body alleging years of “institutionalized gender discrimination”. The team are seeking equal pay with their male counterparts.
Talks have been ongoing between the players and US Soccer with both parties hoping to avoid going to court but on Wednesday it emerged that the discussions have reached a stalemate.
In an interview with ABC’s Good Morning America on Thursday, Rapinoe said she was still hopeful the parties could come to an agreement. “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,” Rapinoe said. “I think that if and when and ever they are willing to have a conversation about equal pay that starts there and goes forward, we’re always open to that.”
Rapinoe, one of the team’s co-captains, said equal pay was still central to their demands. “We won’t accept anything less than equal pay,” she added. “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.”
The lawsuit also seeks “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.”
On Wednesday, Molly Levinson, a spokesperson for the US players, said mediation talks had broken down due to US Soccer’s unwillingness to change. “We entered this week’s mediation with representatives of [US Soccer] 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,” wrote Levinson in a statement. “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.”
For its part, US Soccer said the players have been too aggressive. “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,” said the federation in a statement on Wednesday. “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.”