Players' union opposes expedited schedule in USSF lawsuit
ANNE M. PETERSON
Feb. 09, 2016
The union that represents the Women's World Cup-winning American national team opposed an expedited schedule in the lawsuit filed against it by the U.S. Soccer Federation last week, insisting that no collective bargaining agreement exists.
The federation sued in an attempt to establish it has a contract with the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team Players Association that runs through this year's Olympics until Dec. 31. The union maintains the memorandum of understanding agreed to in March 2013 can be terminated at any time.
The USSF filed a motion Friday in U.S. District Court in Chicago asking for an expedited schedule, but the union countered with opposition papers Monday that claim "facts asserted in the motion are nowhere near accurate and are hotly disputed."
The union maintains the USSF knew about the disagreement since July but did nothing about it.
"No emergency exists," the union said in its filing. "In an effort to support its request for an expedited motion schedule, USSF's motion is filled with blatant inaccuracies, misrepresentations and misleadingly incomplete quotations from the relevant record."
The federation's lawsuit signaled that there was some tension with the union in negotiating a new contract for the players.
The U.S. women's team is in Texas preparing for the Olympic qualifying tournament for the North and Central America and Caribbean region. The United States is set to open the tournament on Wednesday against Costa Rica in Frisco, Texas.
If the U.S. women make it to the final, they would secure a spot in this year's tournament in Brazil, which runs from Aug. 3-19. The Americans have won three straight gold medals.
Ali Krieger, a defender who was also part of the team that won the World Cup last summer, said the players are focused on the qualification tournament and not outside distractions.
"It's easy to put that aside because what's most important right now is qualifying for the Olympics and playing against Costa Rica in that game on Wednesday," Krieger said. "That's kind of our safe haven. You can get out on the field and kind of forget about everything else and take care of business and that's what we're going to do. That's our main focus right now is the game and everything else can be pushed aside for another time."
Forward Christen Press agreed: "We want to go to the Olympics. We want to qualify. We want to get results starting with Wednesday. I think because we care so much about our performance and our team, we stay real focused in. I think that's a strength of our team."
In an email attached to the original lawsuit, union executive director Rich Nichols told the USSF earlier this year that the union's position was that the collective bargaining agreement no longer exists and the 2013 memorandum of understanding could be terminated at any time. That interpretation would mean players potentially could strike.
An initial status conference is set for April 4.
AP Sports Writer Schuyler Dixon in Dallas contributed to this report.