Following a meeting on Wednesday between U.S. Soccer and the U.S. Women's National Team Players Association that failed to resolve legal issues what are the terms of the employment of women's national
team players, U.S. Soccer filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division later in the day, the latest move in growing tension between the federation and
and the Players Association.
The complaint in United States Soccer Federation vs. United States Women's National Team Players Association is for anticipatory breach of contract and
In a nutshell, U.S. Soccer wants the court to decide when the current collective bargaining agreement ends -- or rather when a memorandum of understanding that was
reached in March 2013 ends. The federation's position is that the CBA ends on Dec. 31, while the Players Association believes it is "terminable at will" and wants it to end on Feb. 24, three days
after the Olympic qualifying tournament.
The key is leverage. The Players Association wants to hold the threat of a strike over the federation before the SheBelieves Cup March 3-9 with
England, France and Germany and before the NWSL season starts in April and before the Rio Olympics. There would be none of that leverage if negotiations dragged on into January 2017.
its 217-page court filing, U.S. Soccer states it is bringing the lawsuit against the Players Association because of what it says is a recent claim by Richard Nichols
, the newly appointed
executive director of the Players Association, that the Players Association is entitled to repudiate the parties’ current collective bargaining agreement 11 months prior to its expiration and to
“engage in actions” in violation of a “no strike” clause in advance of the 2016 NWSL season and 2016 Olympic Games.
All but one player on the current national team --
high schooler Mallory Pugh -- is slated to play in the NWSL in 2016.
The federation's position is that Nichols' predecessor, John Langel, reached a memorandum of
understanding with the federation in March 2013 for a new collective bargaining agreement that would expire on Dec. 31, 2016. It argues that they agreed to bind by all terms of the previous eight-year
collective bargaining agreement (including a no-strike clause) except those mentioned in the memorandum of understanding and the players have gotten the benefits of the renegotiated terms for almost
Nichols notified the federation on Dec. 23 that the agreement would expire on Feb. 24, three days after the Olympic qualifying tournament in Texas ends.
stated that at a meeting between U.S. Soccer and Nichols on Wednesday, U.S. Soccer asked Mr. Nichols to agree that the Players Association would not strike or engage in any job actions prior to the
end of the year, but he refused and "other representatives said they would not agree to 'disarm' the Players Association."
The filing is accompanied by documents, emails and testimony --
Langel testified in a 2014 arbitration hearing involving the federation and men's players association -- suggesting that the USWNT Players Association has been operating as through there was a new