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16 Oct, 2019 13:04

Fight for the right: Megan Rapinoe says US women players are ready for a legal fight over equal pay

Fight for the right: Megan Rapinoe says US women players are ready for a legal fight over equal pay

FIFA women’s player of the year Megan Rapinoe said she is “optimistic” that the US women’s national team can strike a deal with US Soccer over their gender discrimination lawsuit, but also warned they're ready for a legal fight.

Speaking to news agency Reuters just one day before Rapinoe and her US teammates are set to be honored at a Women’s Sports Foundation gala, the World Cup hero said she hoped things could be agreed before the players felt compelled to take their fight to the courts.

“I’m always open, I think the team is always open for a settlement,” she said.

“I don’t think anyone really ever wants to go to trial or to take this thing to that level. But obviously, if we have to, we will.

“We’re not willing to compromise on what we know is right and what we know we deserve and have already earned.”

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The US women’s national team issued a lawsuit against US Soccer back in March, alleging gender discrimination with regard to earnings and working conditions.

Discussions between the two parties continued until August when they reached an impasse, and a trial date has been set for May 2020. The timing could prove a distraction ahead of the team’s preparations for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, but it’s something that Rapinoe says may be necessary to get the desired result.

“It's certainly not ideal and it will take attention away and energy and effort away from what our actual job is, which is to play,” she admitted.

“This team also is very good at multitasking and taking a lot on its plate at all times.

“Obviously we just went to the World Cup having filed the lawsuit a couple of months before and having to deal with that pressure.”

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But, for now, Rapinoe has a different target in her sights, as she looks to capture her first National Women’s Soccer League title. Her team, Reign FC, takes on North Carolina Courage in the NWSL semi-finals, and Rapinoe said she’s relishing the cut and thrust of club soccer, where she faces her US teammates on a regular basis in club competition.

“We all really enjoy going back to our respective club teams and having that rivalry with the other teams,” she said.

“I’ve been to two finals and I haven’t won one yet so it’s kind of on the bucket list.”