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U.S. soccer stars Megan Rapinoe and Christen Press explain why equal pay talks broke down

USWNT stars on pay talks with U.S. Soccer
USWNT stars on why talks with U.S. Soccer broke down so quickly 04:32

Soccer stars Megan Rapinoe and Christen Press are gearing up to take the fight for equal pay to the courtroom. In March, the players filed a lawsuit alleging institutionalized gender discrimination. On Wednesday, mediation talks between the U.S. Soccer Federation and the U.S. women's national team broke down after just one day.

A spokesperson for the players said it was clear the federation intends "to continue to compensate women players less than men. They will not succeed."

"At any point, when they're willing and ready to come and have a serious talk about equal pay, we're always willing to listen to that," co-captain Rapinoe said Thursday on "CBS This Morning."

Press added that part of the reason talks broke down was that the team wouldn't budge on "equality."

"It's very simple for us. I mean, it's not just about us, and it's not just about this moment," Press said. "We're trying to do this on behalf of women everywhere, to be treated respectfully and paid lawfully."

In a statement to CBS News, U.S. Soccer said that "instead of allowing mediation to proceed in a considerate manner," the team's counsel took an "aggressive and ultimately unproductive approach" to the talks.

"That's not true," Rapinoe said. "That's definitely not true. We set the posture, as the players, in our talks… and we came ready, willing, and prepared to have that conversation."

The federation also said that the talks followed months of "presenting misleading information to the public in an effort to perpetuate confusion," which the pair also denied.

"There's some attempt for them to make this 'he said, she said,'" Press said. "At the end of the day, it's as simple as I laid it out."

At the World Cup victory parade, Rapinoe said that U.S. Soccer President Carlos Cordeiro was on the right side of the issue. But she said that she no longer feels the same way.

"I think that there's a long way to go for us to feel that way about him, about the board of directors, about the federation as a whole…" Rapinoe said, adding "…they didn't do nearly enough."

When asked if the team was considering boycotting the Olympics in protest, Press said, "We are very confident that if this needs to go to litigation, that we have a great case. And I think that we will go confidently into that because it's based on a very simple principle that we think is fair and right. And it's the law."

"I'm curious about your overwhelming feeling," said "CBS This Morning" co-host Gayle King. "Is it anger? Frustration? Do you think, 'What more do we need to prove?'"      

"I do often wonder what more we need to do," Rapinoe said with a laugh. "I wouldn't say anger, but yes, it is frustrating. It's very frustrating for us on the team -- for women everywhere, I'm sure, to feel like they aren't getting paid like they should be."

The team's effort to secure equal pay has also faced pushback from the manager of men's team Atlanta United, Frank de Boer, who wrote in The Guardian that equal pay at the international level would be "ridiculous" because the men's games are currently much more popular.

"I think we would like to see U.S. Soccer take a stance of leadership on this issue," Press said. "We have an amazing opportunity to change something that has systematically affected women everywhere. And it could be such a positive thing for us to come together and change outdated and honestly wrong opinions like that."

Read the full statement from U.S. Soccer below:

"We have said numerous times that our goal is to find a resolution, and during mediation we had hoped we would be able to address the issues in a respectful manner and reach an agreement.

Unfortunately, instead of allowing mediation to proceed in a considerate manner, plaintiffs' counsel took an aggressive and ultimately unproductive approach that follows months of presenting misleading information to the public in an effort to perpetuate confusion.

We always know there is more we can do. We value our players, and have continually shown that, by providing them with compensation and support that exceeds any other women's team in the world.

Despite inflammatory statements from their spokesperson, which are intended to paint our actions inaccurately and unfairly, we are undaunted in our efforts to continue discussions in good faith."

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