Women’s team files scathing response to U.S. Soccer’s court action

scales justice

The union for the U.S. women’s team says U.S. Soccer lied, ignored and distorted evidence, and tried to mislead a federal judge when it sued the team last week.

In court papers filed Monday (Feb. 8), Jeffrey Kessler, the union’s lawyer, challenges almost every assertion made by U.S. Soccer.

And he does so, as Jonathan Tannenwald of The Philadelphia Inquirer put it, “with some scorching rhetoric, not only by legal standards but by general public standards as well.”

You can read Kessler’s pleading, 70-plus pages with exhibits, here.

The legal skirmish is a product of increasingly contentions contract talks between U.S. Soccer and the women. The federation said it “reluctantly” sued its own players to ensure that a strike doesn’t keep the world’s No. 1 team (and the sport’s biggest TV draw) out of the 2016 Summer Olympics. The U.S. women are in Frisco, Texas, this week, competing in the qualifying tournament for the Games.

U.S. Soccer wants the court to rule that the women remain bound by a no-strike clause in their most recent collective bargaining agreement — even though that agreement expired at the end of 2012. The federation contends that a “memorandum of understanding” signed in March 2013 essentially extends the expired collective bargaining agreement until there’s a new one.

Baloney, the women say.

Kessler’s pleading accuses U.S. Soccer of making statements that are “pure fiction,” of bending the words of people involved in the labor talks, and of resorting to shady legal maneuverings.

Courtroom scene by Honore Daumier, lithograph, 1845

Courtroom scene,  Honore Daumier, lithograph, 1845

The federation, he said, “has known since at least July 2015” that the union’s position is that there’s no current bargaining agreement.

Yet, he said, U.S. Soccer “sat on its hands for over seven months and now rushes to the courthouse claiming an emergency exists. This court should not countenance such disingenuous behavior.”

Furthermore, he said, by raising the specter of a strike, U.S. Soccer is being “alarmist,” since the union “has never stated any intention to engage in any job action, and instead has only said that it reserves all of its rights and sees no reason to give up any of those rights, whatever they may be…”

duelllHe added: “Perhaps most disturbing, in an effort to support its request … [U.S. Soccer’s] motion is filled with blatant inaccuracies, misrepresentations, and misleadingly incomplete quotations from the relevant record.”

In other words, the people in charge of U.S. Soccer are mendacious, duplicitous, unethical, scare-mongering, two-faced chiselers trying to pull a fast one on the court, the women’s team, and the American public. (Those are my words, not Kessler’s, but I think I’ve pretty accurately summed up his position.)

Here’s a way of looking at the dispute in soccer, rather than legal,  terms:

In the video below, think of U.S. Soccer’s lawsuit as the ball.

Meghan Klingenberg’s right foot would be the women’s response.

 

 

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