Judge rules US women footballers cannot go on strike


Chicago (AFP) – USA Soccer welcomed a court ruling on Friday that women’s national team members cannot go on strike over a pay dispute that had top players saying they would consider boycotting the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

Friday’s decision from Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman in federal court in Chicago found that the players, represented by the Women’s National Team Players Association, remained bound by a collective bargaining agreement that includes a no-strike clause, even though the deal had expired in 2012.

The federation had argued that the terms of the agreement remained effective under a memorandum of understanding signed by both parties in 2013.

The decision comes two months before the US women are to defend their Olympic title in Rio.

“Today, Judge Coleman ruled in favor of US Soccer and affirmed that the existing CBA with the US Women’s National Team Players Association is valid through the end of 2016, including the no-strike, no lockout provision,” USA Soccer said in a statement.

“We are pleased with the Court’s decision and remain committed to negotiating a new CBA to take effect at the beginning of next year.”

Friday’s decision doesn’t affect a separate federal wage discrimination complaint filed by five top players earlier this year with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, arguing they are unfairly compensated compared to men’s national team players.

The complaint notes that the women earned $2 million for winning the 2015 World Cup, while the men shared $9 million after they were eliminated from the 2014 World Cup.

“The US men’s national team get paid more just to show up than we get paid to win major championships,” goalkeeper Hope Solo said in March.

The women players have also complained about other conditions, such as having to play on artificial turf.

In April, national team member Becky Sauerbrunn told ESPN that players hadn’t ruled out boycotting Rio over the matter.

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