After a contentious start that included a lawsuit from one side and claims of gender-based wage discrimination from the other, it seems the collective bargaining agreement negotiations between U.S. Soccer and the U.S. Women’s National Team are now in a much different place.
“I do feel confident” said U.S. star Megan Rapinoe when asked if she thought negotiations would deliver the equality sought by U.S. players in their well-documented #EqualPlayEqualPay campaign.
“I think we’ll kind of start to get back into the negotiations with the Federation [shortly] and sort of get back into those talks."
Rapinoe was one of five U.S. players named in a March complaint filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that alleged wage discrimination by U.S. Soccer.
At the time, lawyers representing the players claimed that the U.S. Women’s National Team was paid approximately four times less than the U.S. Men’s National Team.
Rhetoric between the two sides became more and more heated in the build-up to the Olympics. In a July New York Times article, Rapinoe called out U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati for not attending the CBA negotiations.
“We sort of went a little bit quiet during the Olympics,” Rapinoe acknowledged on Tuesday. "I think both sides were wanting that. We needed to focus on being present at the Olympics and doing everything we could to win games.”
Eliminated by Sweden in the quarterfinals, the U.S. failed to reach the medal round at the Olympics for the first time since women’s soccer was added to the competition in 1996.
Despite the disappointment - and loss of potential leverage in negotiations - Rapinoe remains optimistic.
“I think on our side we feel good,” the veteran midfielder added. “I went to both the [women’s soccer] semifinal and final [in Rio] and it was incredible. Just to see how far the sport has come and to know that our team is one of the teams that is kind of blazing the trail is something that I was incredibly proud of.”
The current agreement between U.S. Soccer and the USWNT expires at the end of 2016.