women’s soccer

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U.S. Soccer, women’s national team agree on new contract

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The U.S. Soccer Federation and the World Cup champion women’s team have agreed on a labor contract, settling a dispute in which the players sought equitable wages to their male counterparts.

The financial terms and length of the multiyear deal were not disclosed.

“We are proud of the hard work and commitment to thoughtful dialogue reflected through this process, and look forward to strengthening our partnership moving forward,” U.S. Soccer and the players’ association said in a joint statement Wednesday.

The deal comes as the national team is preparing to play an exhibition match against Russia on Thursday in Frisco, Texas. The team faces Russia again on Sunday in Houston.

The agreement was ratified by the players and the federation’s board Tuesday. The team had been playing under a memorandum of understanding that expired Dec. 31.

The deal comes before the start of the National Women’s Soccer League season on April 15. U.S. Soccer pays the wages of the national team players who are allocated across the domestic league, and the terms of those salaries are outlined in the collective bargaining agreement.

“I’m proud of the tireless work that the players and our bargaining team put in to promote the game and ensure a bright future for American players,” player representative Meghan Klingenberg said in a statement. “We are excited to further strengthen the USWNTPA through our new revenue generating opportunities and abilities.”

A group of players drew attention to the fight for a better contract a year ago when they filed a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that alleged wage discrimination by the federation. The women maintained that players for the men’s national team earned far more than they did in many cases despite comparable work.

Talks had stalled late last year when the players split with the union’s executive director. They picked up again over the last two months after U.S. Women’s National Team Players Association brought in a new executive director and legal representation. Klingenberg, Becky Sauerbrunn and Christen Press were elected player representatives at the team’s January training camp.

The memorandum of understanding between U.S. Soccer and USWNTPA was struck in March 2013. Early last year U.S. Soccer took the players’ association to court to clarify that the CBA ran through 2016 after the union maintained that players could strike.

A federal judge ruled in June that the team remained bound by a no-strike provision from its 2005-12 collective bargaining agreement, heading off any labor action that could have affected last Olympics in Brazil.

The USSF has maintained that much of the pay disparity between the men’s and women’s teams resulted from separate labor agreements. The women’s team had set up its compensation structure, which included a guaranteed salary rather than a pay-for-play model like the men, in the last contract.

There has been no decision issued in the EEOC complaint, which was brought by Sauerbrunn, Hope Solo, Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe and Carli Lloyd. All five were on the team that won the 2015 Women’s World Cup in Canada.

“While I think there is still much progress to be made for us and for women more broadly, I think the WNTPA should be very proud of this deal and feel empowered moving forward,” Rapinoe said.

The contract announcement follows an agreement between USA Hockey and its women’s national team for better compensation following a threat by players to boycott the world championships.

The Irish women’s national soccer team also said Tuesday it could skip an upcoming international match because of a labor dispute. The players, many of them amateurs, say they aren’t compensated for time off from their daily jobs. They say they don’t even have their own team apparel, but share it with Ireland’s youth teams.

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MORE: U.S. women’s hockey deal could have far-reaching impact

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WATCH LIVE: Gold medal matches in women’s soccer, women’s field hockey

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Gold medal matches in women’s field hockey and women’s soccer will be played Friday afternoon, beginning with Great Britain and the Netherlands playing at 4 p.m. Eastern. The Dutch are looking to become the first nation to win three consecutive Olympic gold medals in the women’s competition, with Great Britain having never won a gold medal in women’s field hockey. Great Britain beat New Zealand 3-0 in the semifinals, with the Dutch needing a penalty shootout to beat Germany.

As for the women’s soccer final, it’s a matchup of two of the best nations in the sport with Germany facing Sweden. While some have criticized Pia Sundhage’s team for their strategy, it certainly has worked and Sweden has shown itself to be capable of hurting opponents on the counter attack. Expect a similar strategy against a German team with plenty of offensive talent, including forwards Alexandra Popp and Anja Mittag.

WATCH LIVE: Women’s field hockey gold medal match, Netherlands vs. Great Britain — 4 p.m. Eastern

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WATCH LIVE: Women’s soccer gold medal match, Sweden vs. Germany — 4:30 p.m. Eastern

Sweden’s second shootout stunner: Hosts Brazil ousted in semifinal

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The “cowards” did it again.

Sweden knocked off hosts Brazil in penalty kicks after 120 minutes of 0-0 play in Rio on Monday, days after eliminated the No. 1 ranked United States of America.

Sweden will face either Germany or Canada in the gold medal match on Friday.

Hedvig Lindahl stopped Cristiane and Andressinha in penalty kicks to lift Pia Sundhage-led Sweden to the final.

Called “cowards” by USWNT goalkeeper Hope Solo for their defense-first approach, Sweden again used stingy defense and numbers behind the ball to limit chances.

Marta barely got her first attempt past a diving Lindahl to open the scoring, and we were off.

Lindahl flew left to deny Cristiane on Brazil’s second attempt, and Sweden was in the driver’s seat, but Brazil’s Barbara followed it up with a save of her own. 1-1 after two.