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U.S. Soccer reaches settlement with World Cup women's team on work conditions — but not pay

The federation settled with the U.S. women’s national soccer team in regard to conditions such as team travel, but did not admit any wrongdoing or discrimination.
U.S. Women's National Team World Cup Champions Ticker Tape Parade
Megan Rapinoe #15, Alex Morgan #13, Carli Lloyd #10 and Head Coach Jill Ellis stand for the National Anthem as the USA Women's National Soccer Team stand in front of the 2019 FIFA World Cup Trophy at the City Hall Ceremony in New York on July 10, 2019.Ira L. Black / Corbis via Getty Images file

The U.S. Soccer Federation reached a settlement on working conditions with the U.S. women’s soccer team in a gender-discrimination lawsuit filed by the World Cup champions.

The agreement was filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California with settlements in regard to certain conditions, such as team travel, accommodations and professional support.

Members of the U.S. women’s national soccer team (USWNT) filed a lawsuit last year alleging that the U.S Soccer Federation discriminated against them on the basis of sex by denying them the same working conditions and professional development as their male counterparts.

The settlement does not address pay inequity after a judge ruled in May that the suit could only continue if it focused on working condition inequities between the U.S. women’s soccer team and the U.S. men’s soccer team.

Alex Morgan celebrates scoring the 12th goal for the United States against Thailand in the Women's World Cup in France on June 11, 2019.Christian Hartmann / Reuters file

“USSF denies that it did anything wrong and maintains that it has not discriminated against Plaintiffs on the basis of sex in pay or working conditions,” the settlement said.

The federation agreed in the settlement to provide the women’s team comparable conditions to the men’s team, including a chartered flight policy for team travel, venues for team events, hotel accommodations and specialized professional support services.

Molly Levison, spokesperson for the U.S. women’s team players, said the team is still committed to achieving equal pay for the “next generation of women who will play for this team and this country.”

“We are pleased that the USWNT Players have fought for — and achieved — long overdue equal working conditions,” Levison’s statement said. “We now intend to file our appeal to the Court’s decision which does not account for the central fact in this case that women players have been paid at lesser rates than men who do the same job.”

Megan Rapinoe of the U.S. celebrates with teammates Alex Morgan and Samantha Mewis after scoring her team's first goal during the Women's World Cup final against the Netherlands on July 7, 2019 in Lyon, France.Richard Heathcote / Getty Images file

U.S Soccer President Cindy Parlow Cone called the settlement “good news for everyone” and said it was her goal to come to a resolution on “all equal pay matters” in a statement Tuesday.

“We hope today’s positive step forward will result in the USWNT accepting our standing offer to discuss contract options,” Cone said. “As a former USWNT player, I can promise you that I am committed to equality between the USWNT and USMNT.”

The settlement reflects U.S Soccer's "continuing commitment to equal treatment of the senior national team," according to Jamie Wine, one of the attorney's representing the federation.

"We are pleased that U.S. Soccer and the Women’s National Team players were able to work collaboratively to resolve the non-compensation claims in their ongoing litigation," Wine said in a statement Tuesday.

The U.S women’s soccer team has won four FIFA Women's World Cup titles since the competition’s founding in 1991 and are the international tournament’s defending champions after winning a second consecutive title last year in France.

The U.S men’s national team has not won a FIFA World Cup title in the tournament's 90-year history.

Equal pay has been at the crux of the legal dispute between the U.S women’s soccer team and the U.S Soccer Federation, with a legal battle erupting from a 2016 complaint filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of five top players.

Last year’s lawsuit alleged that American female players were paid a total of $1.725 million in bonuses after winning the World Cup in 2015. But their male counterparts were awarded $5.375 million in bonuses in 2014 by the same federation, the lawsuit claimed.

U.S. Soccer has previously said that the women are paid differently because “they specifically asked for and negotiated a completely different contract than the men’s national team, despite being offered, and rejecting, a similar pay-to-play agreement during the past negotiations.”

In May, Judge R. Gary Klausner said, in part, that women "opted for" pay that weighed fixed income more than performance bonuses, which complicated comparisons to how men were paid.

Klausner ultimately awarded summary judgment in part to the federation. But he said the women's suit could continue if it focused on unequal travel, accommodations and personnel support.