Olympics: US women raise prospect of Olympic boycott

[LOS ANGELES] The United States women's football team could boycott the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro if demands to be paid the same as their male counterparts are not met, World Cup winner Becky Sauerbrunn said.

Ms Sauerbrunn, a member of the USA team that lifted the World Cup in Canada last year and a gold medal-winning veteran of the 2012 Olympics, told ESPN that players would not rule out the possibility of a boycott.

The 30-year-old defender said a boycott would be discussed by the team if they believed no progress on the increasingly acrimonious dispute had been made.

"It would still be on the table," Ms Sauerbrunn said.

"We are reserving every right to do so and we're leaving every avenue open. And if nothing has changed, if we don't feel real progress has been made, then that's a conversation that we're going to have."

Ms Sauerbrunn is one of five members of the US team who have filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against the US Soccer Federation alleging wage discrimination.

High-profile stars such as World Cup Most Valuable Player Carli Lloyd, Megan Rapinoe, Hope Solo and Alex Morgan are the other signatories to the complaint, which was filed with support from the rest of the squad, Sauerbrunn said.

Ms Sauerbrunn said she hoped the legal action would lead to "equal pay for equal play."

"I think, compensation-wise, respect-wise, that's what I'm really hoping comes out of this complaint," she told ESPN.

"I hope that it puts enough pressure on the federation to show them our worth, our value."

The US women earned US$2 million in prize money for winning last year's World Cup, which the federation distributed to the women and the organization.

The men's team received US$9 million after losing in the round of 16 at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

"The message they've been putting out by paying us drastically less than the men is that they don't value our contributions to the game as much as the men," Ms Sauerbrunn told ESPN.

Opponents of the women players' complaint justify the disparity by asserting that the men's game generates more revenue than the female game.

However the US women are also pointing to other areas such as the quality and type of pitches used for their fixtures as evidence of discrimination.

For last year's "victory tour" following the World Cup, eight out of 10 games took place on artificial turf.

"The men never played in any friendlies on (artificial) turf so why are we playing eight out of 10 on turf when we just won a World Cup?" Ms Sauerbrunn said.

"You'd think they'd want to present us on these beautiful sparkling pitches. It was mind-boggling to me that they would make us play on (artificial) turf on eight out of 10 games in our victory tour."


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