Talks between the United States Soccer Federation and the women's national team ended without resolution Wednesday, as the national team drew a hard line in the sand over the equal pay dispute, according to ESPN.
In an attempt to avoid a federal court battle, the two sides were taking part in mediation sessions. Ultimately, however, the women's national team felt the talks were going nowhere.
"We entered this week's mediation with representatives of [U.S. Soccer] full of hope," said U.S. women's national team spokeswoman Molly Levinson, according to Yahoo Sports. "Today, we must conclude these meetings sorely disappointed in the Federation's determination to perpetuate fundamentally discriminatory workplace conditions and behavior."
Megan Rapinoe, captain of the team that just won the women's World Cup, assessed the situation more bluntly, saying that fully equal pay for the women's and men's teams was a non-negotiable starting point.
"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," Rapinoe said on NBC. "I don't think that that's an unrealistic or unreasonable ask to have equality."
The USSF has presented data showing that from 2010 through 2018, women's players have received nearly $8 million more overall in salaries and bonuses than the men's players, despite the men generating nearly twice as much in gross revenue per game from 2009 through 2019.
The comparison between men's and women's soccer team pay is quite complicated, considering the two pay structures are completely different and they were collectively bargained separately. Even Rapinoe acknowledged that the "realities are different," although that doesn't change her opinion.
Additionally, she knows that the team and the federation are stuck together.
"That's the only federation we can play for. We're the only team that they have. ... So we're sort of tethered together in that way," she said. "But at any point if they want to have a serious conversation and are willing to not only talk about paying us equally and valuing us in that way, but actually doing it and showing us that they'll do it, our ears are always open. I don't think anybody wants to go to litigation. But with that said, we're very confident in our case."
The USSF didn't have much to say about the talks breaking down, issuing a statement expressing how it values the women's national team.
"We always know there is more we can do," U.S. Soccer said in a statement. "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."