US women’s national team (USWNT) stars Megan Rapinoe and Christen Press have spoken out regarding their fight for equal pay after mediation talks between the team and the US Soccer Federation ended without reaching an agreement.
On Thursday, a day after it was announced the USWNT, which won the World Cup last month, and the US Soccer Federation’s pay mediation talks broke down, co-captain Rapinoe and Press appeared on several talk shows including Good Morning America and Today to discuss what went wrong.
“When they are ready to have a serious conversation about equal pay, I think that conversations will go better,” Rapinoe said on Today. “We didn’t feel like they were there, or willing to get there.”
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According to Press, it was ultimately the “concept of paying us equally” that led to the break down of mediation talks.
“We never even got past that,” she said, adding: “We were very hopeful in our discussions with them that they were going to take our proposals and our positions seriously, which is simply that every game that we play we get compensated the same way a man would for playing or winning that game. And it broke down right there.”
Rapinoe added: “I think it’s fair for us to ask that when we play a game, and we win that game or we tie that game or we lose that game, that we should be paid the same as our male counterparts. I don’t think that’s an unrealistic or unreasonable ask, to have equality.”
While appearing on GMA on Thursday, Press also said the team’s fight for equality has since become about more than just receiving equal pay to their male counterparts, and that they will bring the Federation to federal court if they have to.
“It’s actually about women everywhere being treated equally and respectfully in the workplace so if that means we’re going to go to trial then we’re going to do that, and we’re going to do it very confidently,” she said.
In a statement Wednesday, USWNT spokesperson Molly Levinson said the team was “undaunted” and would “eagerly look forward to a jury trial”.
The attempt at mediation came after the USWNT filed an equal pay lawsuit against the US Soccer Federation earlier this year, alleging the Federation was guilty of “institutionalised gender discrimination”.
On Wednesday, the US Soccer Federation released a statement in which it said that “instead of allowing mediation to proceed in a considerate manner”, the USWNT’s counsel took an “aggressive and ultimately unproductive approach” to the talks.
The statement continued: “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.“
Rapinoe responded to the statement on CBS This Morning, calling the accusations “definitely not true”.
“We set the posture, as the players, in our talks… and we came ready, willing and prepared to have that conversation,” she said.