May 2, 2020 / 12:05 AM / a month ago

U.S. Soccer scores victory in equal pay suit with women's team players

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. women’s soccer team’s claims for equal pay were dismissed by a court on Friday, handing a victory to the United States Soccer Federation. 

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Women's World Cup Final - United States v Netherlands - Groupama Stadium, Lyon, France - July 7, 2019 Megan Rapinoe of the U.S. scores their first goal from the penalty spot REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

Judge R. Gary Klausner of the United States District Court for the Central District of California threw out players’ claims that they were under paid in comparison with the men’s national team but allowed complaints of unfair medical, travel and training to proceed to trial.

“The WNT (Women’s National Team) has been paid more on both a cumulative and an average per-game basis than the MNT (Men’s National Team) over the class period,” the court said in its summary judgment.

The judge, however, also ruled that players’ claims they do not receive equal treatment as the men when it comes to travel, training, housing and other areas could proceed.

The trial date is set for June 16.

Molly Levinson, a spokeswoman for the players, said that they plan to appeal the decision.

“We are shocked and disappointed,” said Levinson. “We will not give up our hard work for equal pay.

“We are confident in our case and steadfast in our commitment to ensuring that girls and women who play this sport will not be valued as lesser just because of their gender.”

U.S. Soccer released a statement Friday saying it wanted to work with the team to “chart a positive path forward to grow the game both here at home and around the world.”

“U.S. Soccer has long been the world leader for the women’s game on and off the field and we are committed to continuing that work,” the federation said.

Players had been seeking $66 million in damages under the Equal Pay Act.

The women’s national team beat Netherlands to claim its fourth World Cup title last summer, as the stadium rang with chants of, “Equal Pay, Equal Pay,” catapulting its players into the spotlight.

Team co-captain Megan Rapinoe, who on Thursday appeared with presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in a livestreamed event tweeted: “We will never stop fighting for EQUALITY.”

Forward Tobin Heath wrote on social media: “This team never gives up and we’re not going to start now.”

The U.S national team’s long-running feud with U.S. Soccer has been a very public and bitter battle with athletes and celebrities, from Billie Jean King to Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez rallying around the women’s cause.

Last month U.S. Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro resigned over language used in a court filing suggesting women possess less ability than men when it comes to soccer.

The language prompted an on-field protest by players, who wore their warmup jerseys inside out to obscure the U.S. Soccer logo prior to a game, and a critical response from several of the team’s commercial sponsors.

Reporting by Amy Tennery and Steve Keating; Editing by Sandra Maler and Stephen Coates

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