Tarnished Twenty- The FindLaw Sports Law Blog

U.S. Soccer Sues U.S. Women's National Team

This sounds like a case of someone suing themselves. After all, aren't United States Soccer and the United States women's national soccer team the same thing?

According to a collective bargaining agreement -- which expired in 2012 -- no. And it's that CBA that is at issue in a lawsuit between the country's national soccer federation and its most decorated team.

A 50/50 Challenge

The U.S. women's national team are represented by a union, and signed a collective bargaining agreement that covered issues like player compensation and playing and travel conditions. Although that deal expired four years ago, U.S. Soccer contends its terms have been extended through a signed memorandum of understanding that runs through the end of this year.

The players' union disagrees, saying the memo can't substitute for a collective bargaining agreement. The union's executive director, Richard Nichols, informed U.S. Soccer in December that a new CBA would need to be in place by February 24 or the players would no longer be bound by the previous agreement's no-strike clause.

Offside

In response to Nichols's rejection of the memo of understanding, U.S. Soccer filed a lawsuit, asking a federal court to rule on whether the terms of the previous CBA still hold. While the federation isn't seeking money damages, it still pits two parties who should be celebrating the women's team's 2015 World Cup victory against each other. Nichols contends "There were no threats about strikes or work stoppages," but it seems U.S. Soccer interpreted the disagreement as such.

The lawsuit is the latest in a string of flashpoints between the two entities, most of the previous of which were based on the national federation scheduling victory commemoration matches on turf, after several female players had joined a lawsuit trying to prevent the World Cup matches from being played on the surface. In December, players refused to play a game on turf in Hawaii because of safety concerns.

And the federation didn't do itself any favors in its filing of the lawsuit -- the public document contained several players' personal contact information.

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