US soccer, women's team settle labor dispute

2017-04-05 18:51
Soccer ball (File)

Chicago - The United States Soccer Federation and the country's women footballers agreed a new long-term labor deal on Wednesday, ending a dispute that had raised the prospect of strike action.

Both sides signed a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) through to 2021, US Soccer and the US Women's National Team Players Association (WNTPA) said in a joint statement.

"We are pleased to announce that US Soccer and the US Women's National Team Players Association have ratified a new collective bargaining agreement which will continue to build the women's program in the US, grow the game of soccer worldwide, and improve the professional lives of players on and off the field," the statement said.

"We are proud of the hard work and commitment to thoughtful dialogue reflected through this process and look forward to strengthening our partnership moving forward."

The US women have filed a separate case with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, accusing US Soccer of violating equal pay and sex discrimination laws. That case remains active despite the new CBA.

Several members of the World Cup-winning side had said they were prepared to go on strike if a broad range of grievances were not addressed.

US midfielder Megan Rapinoe welcomed the new labor agreement.

"I am incredibly proud of this team and the commitment we have shown through this entire process," Rapinoe said in a statement.

"While I think there is still much progress to be made for us and for women more broadly, I think the WNTPA should be very proud of this deal and feel empowered moving forward."

US Soccer President Sunil Gulati described the deal as "an important step to continue our longstanding efforts to drive the growth of women's soccer in the United States."

"This agreement helps to ensure the strength of the women's national team, provide stability and growth potential for the National Women's Soccer League, and over time strengthen the elite player development process at the grassroots level," Gulati said.

The New York Times reported that under the deal, the women's team would see a sharp increase in base pay and match bonuses.

The changes would allow some players to double their pay to between $200,000 to $300,000 a year, The Times report said, but stopped short of guaranteeing pay equal to the US men's team.

Other changes to the CBA included improved "lifestyle benefits" relating to hotels and travel, and per diems which were equal to the US men's national team.

Players who become pregnant or adopt a child would also receive greater financial support.

The US team have been one of the powerhouses of women's football for decades, winning a record third World Cup title in 2015 following wins in 1991 and 1999. US women have also captured four gold medals and a silver at the Olympics.

However the women have complained about different treatment by US Soccer, noting that the men's team travels first class while women flew in economy. The American women have also complained about playing matches on artificial turf, when the men's team plays virtually all its games on grass.

In 2015, the US women refused to play a friendly against Trinidad & Tobago in Hawaii, announcing their decision on the eve of the game after inspecting a badly worn surface strewn with rocks.

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