LOS ANGELES -- In a major victory for U.S. Soccer, a federal judge on Friday dismissed the unequal pay claim brought by the World Cup champion women's national team, ruling that the evidence offered by the players' lawyers was "insufficient to create a genuine issue of material fact for trial."
The team's allegation of discriminatory travel accommodations and medical supports services will go to trial.
The players filed suit against the federation 13 months ago, claiming they were paid less than players on the U.S. men's team for performing the same work. U.S. Soccer countered by citing the collective-bargaining agreement the women signed with the federation, one which includes an annual salary and other guaranteed benefits such as health care and family leave that members of the men's team do not receive.
The women were seeking more than $66 million in damages. The case was scheduled to go to trial next month.
"Merely comparing what WNT players received under their own CBA with what they would have received under the MNT CBA discounts the value that the team placed on the guaranteed benefits they receive under their agreement, which they opted for," the judge ruled.
The players' claim of unequal travel and medical staff can go to trial, the judge said.
"We are shocked and disappointed with today's decision but we will not give up our hard work for equal play," Molly Levinson, a spokesman for the women's team said in a statement. She said Friday's decision will be appealed.
"We are confident in our case and steadfast in our commitment to ensuring that girls and women who play this sport will not be valued as lesser just because of their gender."
The players apparently are still committed, and commented via Twitter:
"This team never gives up and we're not going to start now," U.S. women's national soccer team player Tobin Heath said.
"We will continue on in the fight for equal pay," teammate Christen Press said.
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