United States women’s soccer co-captain Megan Rapinoe says any conversations with U.S. Soccer must begin with women’s players receiving equal pay to their male counterparts.
Rapinoe and teammate Christen Press appeared on ABC’s “Good Morning America” and NBC’s “Today” on Thursday, a day after mediation between the U.S. Soccer Federation and members of the women’s team reached an impasse.
Rapinoe told GMA that it was unfortunate that the talks broke down, adding that she had hoped the two sides could come together and find common ground.
The Golden Ball and Boot winner at last month’s Women’s World Cup said she thought there were still avenues to reach an agreement.
“I don’t think for us anything is off the table,” Rapinoe said.
On “Today,” Press said the mediation never even settled on the equal pay issue.
“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,” Press said. “And it broke down right there.”
Rapinoe told “Today” that the players are willing to go to litigation and are confident in their case.
Although equal pay has been a point of contention between the federation and the players for years, with five prominent players filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2016, the current dispute began when 28 members of the national team player pool filed suit in March alleging gender discrimination.
The two sides subsequently agreed to enter mediation after the Women’s World Cup.
In a statement Wednesday, U.S. Soccer said it entered mediation hoping to reach an agreement.
“Unfortunately, instead of allowing mediation to proceed in a considerate manner, plaintiffs’ counsel took an aggressive and ultimately unproductive approach that follows months of presenting misleading information to the public in an effort to perpetuate confusion,” the statement said. “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.”