The U.S. women's national team has ramped up its plea for equal pay from U.S. Soccer, unveiling a public campaign aimed at raising awareness for the cause going into the Summer Olympics.
As reported by The New York Times, players will wear T-shirts with the hashtag slogan "Equal Play Equal Pay" during media availability before Saturday's friendly against South Africa in Chicago. The players also plan to sport temporary tattoos with the slogan during tune-up matches ahead of next month's Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro and further promote the campaign on social media.
The development comes after five players — Megan Rapinoe, Carli Lloyd, Becky Sauerbrunn, Alex Morgan and Hope Solo — filed a complaint on behalf of the team with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in March that accused U.S. Soccer of wage discrimination.
U.S. Soccer previously filed a lawsuit against the national team's union in February to enforce the current collective bargaining agreement, which had come into dispute. A June court decision confirmed that CBA's validity through the end of 2016, removing the possibility of a player strike.
Rapinoe, a veteran who has recently returned to training after suffering a torn ACL in December, called out U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati for not attending negotiations as the women seek compensation equal to that earned by the men's national team.
"It's quite frustrating to know that he's making comments that he wants to get a deal done, but he hasn't come to one meeting,” Rapinoe told the Times. "I've been to three meetings, flown six hours across the country and interrupted my rehab to come to New York, where he lives. And he can't come to one meeting."
Gulati confirmed to the Times that he had not personally attended talks but said the federation had committed considerable resources to negotiations with the players.
"Over the next several months our focus is obviously on the Olympics and getting an equitable deal in place for after the CBA expires," Gulati said.