'This team is good at compartmentalizing' - USWNT ignoring new developments in discrimination lawsuit

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Martin Rose
The team says that its focus is strictly on Monday's last-16 women's World Cup match against Spain as the suit moves towards a process of mediation

The U.S. women's national team is looking to ignore new developments in its pay discrimination lawsuit against U.S. Soccer, saying its focus is entirely on winning a World Cup.

On Friday, U.S. Soccer confirmed that it has tentatively agreed to pursue mediation with the 28 U.S. women’s national team players who have filed a pay discrimination lawsuit.

The players filed the suit in March, seeking financial damages as well as an end to what they call "discriminatory practices".

The mediation is set to take place after the World Cup ends, with the USWNT currently due to face Spain on Monday in the last 16 of the women's World Cup after winning all three of their group-stage matches.

Asked about the news regarding their lawsuit on Saturday, two U.S. players looked to deflect any attention from the courtroom away from matters on the pitch.

"We’re here to win a World Cup and the lawyers are at home to do their thing, so we both have our jobs," defender Kelley O'Hara said.

"This team has always been good at compartmentalizing. We focus on the task at hand and I haven't paid any mind to anything that’s been going on, and that’s something that we’ll pick back up when we get home."

O'Hara's fellow defender Ali Krieger agreed with her team-mate's sentiment. 

"I haven’t thought about that once. We’re so focused on the game against Spain and that’s what’s important for us right now," Krieger said. "We’ll deal with everything once it comes."

Ali Krieger USWNT

The lawsuit filed in March followed a wage discrimination suit that five USWNT players filed through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2016. With that matter remaining unresolved, the 28 players filed another suit in United States District Court in Los Angeles.

U.S. stars Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, Carli Lloyd and Becky Sauerbrunn are at the head of the list of players who filed the suit, with the other 24 players listed below them in alphabetical order.

The suit was under the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and alleges that U.S. Soccer “paid only lip service to gender equality and continues to practice gender-based discrimination against its champion female employees.”

U.S. Soccer provided a statement to The Wall Street Journal, who first reported the mediation was set to take place.

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“While we welcome the opportunity to mediate, we are disappointed the plaintiffs’ counsel felt it necessary to share this news publicly during the Women’s World Cup and create any possible distraction from the team’s focus on the tournament and success on the field,” a U.S. Soccer spokesperson said.

“We look forward to everyone returning their focus to the efforts on the field as we aim to win another title.”

The USWNT has won three World Cup titles and is seeking its fourth in France this summer.

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