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    US Soccer asks 9th Circuit to uphold ruling against players

    New York — The U.S. Soccer Federation has urged the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold a lower court’s decision to throw out the wage discrimination portion of a lawsuit filed by members of the women’s national team, arguing the law doesn’t require the federation to pay the players “tens of millions of dollars in phantom revenue it never received.”

    In a 59-page brief filed Wednesday with the appellate court in San Francisco, the USSF said U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner in Los Angeles correctly granted a summary judgment to the federation on the pay claim in May 2020. The judge ruled the women rejected a pay-to-play structure similar to the one in the men’s agreement with U.S. Soccer and accepted greater base salaries and benefits than the men. He allowed their allegation of discriminatory working conditions to go to trial, and the sides reached a settlement on that portion.

    The women asked the 9th Circuit to overrule the trial court’s ruling and put their wage claim back on track. A three-judge panel is likely to hear oral arguments late this year or in early 2022.

    The women’s team players “deliberately negotiated for a CBA that prioritized guaranteed salaries and substantial benefits over higher contingent bonuses,” the federation’s lawyers wrote. “Plaintiffs cannot now, with the benefit of hindsight, pursue ‘equal pay’ claims based on a different pay structure they explicitly rejected. The District Court agreed. This is not a factual dispute. It is not a battle of the experts. It is a fundamental disagreement about what equal pay means under the law.”

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