By Amy Tennery
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Members of the U.S. women’s national soccer team voiced frustration on Sunday in the ongoing back-and-forth with their federation over pay equality, as a May 5 trial date in their well-publicized lawsuit against U.S. Soccer inched closer.
At issue was a letter to membership released on Saturday in which U.S. Soccer President Carlos Cordeiro said the federation “offered to provide identical compensation to our women’s and men’s players for all matches controlled by U.S. Soccer.”
“They have repeatedly declined our invitation to meet on the premise that our proposal does not include U.S. Soccer agreeing to make up the difference in future prize money awarded by FIFA for the Men’s and Women’s World Cups,” the letter said.
Molly Levinson, a spokeswoman for the players, said the letter was “riddled with falsehoods” and that it “included the smallest number of games possible, designed to leave out all tournaments, including the SheBelieves Cup being held right now.”
Speaking to reporters on Sunday after their 1-0 victory over Spain in the second of three SheBelieves Cup games, team co-captain Megan Rapinoe said the stance from Cordeiro and the federation “shows the distance between us on some issues.”
“The timing of it on the eve of – not only a game in this tournament – and on the eve of International Women’s Day, I guess, if that’s how you want to celebrate International Women’s Day,” said Rapinoe, referring to the symbolic celebration of women that coincided with the announcement of their lawsuit a year ago.
“I feel that it’s a little ill-timed,” said Becky Sauerbrunn, who has appeared in three World Cups with the U.S. team. “Obviously this is a major tournament for us, it’s one our biggest domestic tournaments we have every year. We’d like to be focusing on soccer stuff and unfortunately we didn’t get to focus on soccer stuff as much as we’d like.”
The U.S. faces Japan next in the SheBelieves Cup on March 11.
(Reporting By Amy Tennery. Editing by Gerry Doyle)