According to reports by The New York Times and Yahoo Sports, attempted mediation between the U.S. Women’s National Team and U.S. Soccer have broken down and the two sides will head to federal court.
The players on the women’s team filed a gender discrimination lawsuit back in March, and it appears that lawsuit will continue to progress. The two sides met in New York City for two days according to the reports, but New York Times assistant sports editor Andrew Das says those talks “went nowhere.”
“We entered this week’s mediation with representatives of U.S.S.F. full of hope,” said plaintiff spokeswoman Molly Levinson in a statement. “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 U.S.S.F., including its board of directors and President Carlos Cordeiro, fully intend to continue to compensate women players less than men. They will not succeed.”
The Wall Street Journal reported back in June that the two sides intended to hash out their differences outside of the courtroom.
U.S. Soccer released its own side of the situation, accusing the players’ counsel of unproductive intentions. “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.”
In late July, U.S. Soccer president Cordeiro released an open letter that he hoped would help back his side’s stance on the current wage gap. That letter did not go down well, and some attacked the accuracy or relevance of the numbers presented. Reports also claimed that internally, U.S. Soccer looked to hire lobbyists for a political push, fearing backlash from political candidates who hoped to capitalize on the high-profile battle and use it to further a platform around equal pay.
This is not the first time the two sides looked to meet and settle things out of court. Before the Women’s World Cup this summer, the players reportedly looked to meet with Cordeiro and informally come to some kind of agreement, but the U.S. Soccer president insisted all 28 players named in the lawsuit be present, an impossible request given the broad reach of those players and the preparations for the World Cup.