U.S. Soccer has "reluctantly" filed a lawsuit against the U.S. women's national team players union in hopes of proving the validity of the current collective bargaining agreement, the federation announced Wednesday.
The action in federal court comes after Richard Nichols, the players union's new executive director, notified U.S. Soccer that he does not believe a CBA currently is in place. The federation argues that a valid agreement was reached in 2013 and will not expire until the end of 2016.
Nichols' stance would allow the team to take labor action starting Feb. 24, ahead of the NWSL season and next summer's Olympic Games.
In a statement, the federation called Nichols' perspective "a view inconsistent with the negotiating history and directly contrary to the position of the prior executive director who actually negotiated the current agreement."
"We are confident the court will confirm the existence and validity of the current CBA, which has been in effect since U.S. Soccer and the Women's National Team Players Association reached agreement almost three years ago," U.S. Soccer wrote in the news release. "During that time, U.S. Soccer has complied with all of its obligations included in the CBA.
"While unfortunate, we believe taking this action provides the parties with the most efficient path to a resolution, in an effort to not jeopardize the team's participation in any competitions this year, including the 2016 Olympic Games. Obtaining a prompt resolution on the validity of the current CBA will allow both parties to focus on continuing negotiations in good faith on the next CBA that would start in 2017."
Speaking to SI.com, Nichols said "there were no threats issued" by the players union regarding a potential strike.
"We're pretty disappointed that they took this matter to court. Surprised too, but mainly disappointed," Nichols said. "It’s an honest disagreement that two business parties should be able to resolve through discussions, which is what I thought we were doing."