The long-anticipated mediation talks between U.S. Soccer and the USWNT have already ended, as of Wednesday afternoon. You are likely just learning about this week’s meetings for two reasons; first, because the participants agreed to maintain “the strictest secrecy” about their details, including time and location; and more importantly, because the talks broke down too quickly for anyone on the outside to notice they’d even started.
Hopes that mediation would lead to an equal pay resolution dwindled over the last few weeks as U.S. Soccer appeared to dig in for an ugly, multi-front campaign. On July 30, USSF president Carlos Cordeiro released a skewed fact sheet disingenuously arguing that USWNT players are equally compensated by U.S. Soccer, essentially because U.S. Soccer invests in the NWSL. To no one’s great surprise, that rationale was quickly panned by both the USWNT and the USMNT. A week later, Politico reported that U.S. Soccer had dispatched a pair of lobbying firms to fight bills in the House and Senate that would make equal pay a condition of federal funding for the 2026 World Cup, hosted in North America.
With Cordeiro waging a cynical public relations campaign to distort the math, and USSF lobbyists working in D.C. to undermine potential legislative solutions, it never much looked like U.S. Soccer anticipated a near future where men and women are compensated equally for national team appearances. This week’s failed mediation attempt apparently drove home the organization’s determination to preserve the status quo. From the New York Times:
“We entered this week’s mediation with representatives of U.S.S.F. full of hope,” Molly Levinson, a spokeswoman for the players, said in a statement. “Today we must conclude these meetings sorely disappointed in the federation’s determination to perpetuate fundamentally discriminatory workplace conditions and behavior. It is clear that U.S.S.F., including its board of directors and President Carlos Cordeiro, fully intend to continue to compensate women players less than men. They will not succeed.”
Hope Solo’s concern, when she unsuccessfully petitioned in July to join the mediation, was that the USWNT would get into a room with USSF negotiators and “‘surrender’ on their demands for equal pay.” Clearly that concern was misplaced. The Times reports that no further mediation sessions are scheduled, which would seem to clear the way for the USWNT’s gender discrimination lawsuit to proceed to federal court. It’s amazing how willing the USSF is to just be wrong about this, over and over again.