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Judge dismisses US women's national soccer team's claim for equal pay

The U.S. women's national soccer team has been fighting for months to receive the same rate of pay as their male counterparts. On Friday, a judge dismissed the claim for equal pay, but said that other allegations of discrimination can proceed to trial. 

U.S. District Judge R Gary Klausner said he would not allow the equal pay allegations to go forward because the women's national team previously "rejected an offer to be paid under the same pay-to-play structure" as the men's national team. According to CBS Sports, the women's team sought $66 million under the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 

"The WNT was willing to forgo higher bonuses for benefits, such as greater base compensation and the guarantee of a higher number of contracted players," he wrote in the 32-page decision. "Accordingly, plaintiffs cannot now retroactively deem their CBA (collective bargaining agreement) worse than the MNT (men's national team) CBA by reference to what they would have made had they been paid under the MNT's pay-to-play terms structure when they themselves rejected such a structure." 

The team's claims that the U.S. Soccer Federation discriminated against them regarding the money spent on commercial airfare, hotel accommodations and medical and training support services will go to trial in federal court in Los Angeles. The trial is scheduled for June 16, according to the Associated Press

In a statement to CBS News, U.S. Soccer said it looks forward to working with the Women's National Team "to chart a positive path forward to grow the game both here at home and around the world." 

"U.S. Soccer has long been the world leader for the women's game on and off the field, and we are committed to continuing that work to ensure our Women's National Team remains the best in the world and sets the standard for women's soccer," they said. 

U.S. Soccer argued in court documents that the U.S. women's team had less responsibility than the men's, and that men's soccer requires more skill. The women's team has won four FIFA World Cups and four Olympic medals. The men's team has not won either, according to the national soccer team's site

The federation argued that "the overall soccer-playing ability required to compete at the senior men's national team level is materially influenced by the level of certain physical attributes, such as speed and strength, required for the job," according to the documents. 

They also argued that the male and female players have "materially different jobs," as the men's team has to deal with more hostile fans during international games. 

Former U.S. Soccer President Carlos Cordeiro resigned just days after the documents were filed, saying he "didn't have the opportunity to fully review the filing in its entirety before it was submitted."

"The arguments and language contained in this week's legal filing caused great offense and pain, especially to our Women's National Team players who deserve better. It was unacceptable and inexcusable," Cordeiro said.  

Molly Levinson, a spokesperson for the USWNT, posted on Twitter that the team is "shocked and disappointed" with the judge's ruling, but that they do not plan to give up on getting equal pay.

"We are confident in our case and steadfast in our commitment to ensuring that girls and women will not be valued as lesser just because of their gender," she tweeted. "We have learned that there are tremendous obstacles to change; we know that it takes bravery and courage and perseverance to stand up to them."

USWNT players have also responded to the ruling. Co-captain and forward Megan Rapinoe, who has helped spearhead the team's fight, tweeted, "We will never stop fighting for EQUALITY." 

Fellow forward Tobin Heath tweeted, "This team never gives up and we're not going to start now." 

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