The U.S. players who won the Women's World Cup last summer will boycott the Australia Cup next month because contract negotiations with U.S. Soccer have stalled. The Federation, which had anticipated the situation, will send a replacement team Down Under to face the host Matildas, Sweden and the Czech Republic in January. The last long-term contract, which the U.S. team signed in 1996, ended on July 31. The players operated under a series of short-term agreements when they played in five outdoor friendlies this past fall. Since the two sides were not close to signing a new long-term deal, the players had hoped to sign a temporary agreement that would take them through January and February, which encompasses the Australia Cup and a Feb. 6 friendly against Norway in Florida. But the players balked on Dec. 21, because they were upset that the Federation asked them to temporarily operate under the terms of the 1996 contract. The two sides may meet in the first week of January to reopen negotiations.
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