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USSF, USWNT reach mediation impasse over pay

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7:46 PM ET

Graham HaysespnW.com

CloseGraham Hays covers school sports activities for espnW, together with softball and soccer. Hays started with ESPN in 1999.

The United State Soccer Federation and members of the ladies’s nationwide staff reached an deadlock Wednesday of their makes an attempt to mediate the continuing dispute over equal pay, with a spokesperson for the gamers saying they “eagerly stay up for a jury trial.”

Spokesperson Molly Levinson launched the assertion on behalf of the U.S. gamers after mediation ended Wednesday night.

“We entered this week’s mediation with representatives of USSF stuffed with hope,” Levinson stated within the assertion. “As we speak we should conclude these conferences sorely dissatisfied within the Federation’s dedication to perpetuate essentially discriminatory office situations and habits.

“It’s clear that USSF, together with its Board of Administrators and President Carlos Cordeiro, totally intend to proceed to compensate ladies gamers lower than males. They won’t succeed. We would like all of our followers, sponsors, friends world wide, and ladies in all places to know we’re undaunted and can eagerly stay up for a jury trial.”

U.S. Soccer stated in a press release: “Now we have stated quite a few occasions that our objective is to discover a decision, and through mediation we had hoped we’d be capable to tackle the problems in a respectful method and attain an settlement. Sadly, as an alternative of permitting mediation to proceed in a thoughtful method, plaintiffs’ counsel took an aggressive and finally unproductive strategy that follows months of presenting deceptive data to the general public in an effort to perpetuate confusion.

“We at all times know there may be extra we are able to do. We worth our gamers and have frequently proven that, by offering them with compensation and help that exceeds every other ladies’s staff on the earth. Regardless of inflammatory statements from their spokesperson, that are meant to color our actions inaccurately and unfairly, we’re undaunted in our efforts to proceed discussions in good religion.”

Though equal pay has been some extent of rivalry between the federation and the gamers for years, with 5 distinguished gamers submitting a criticism with the Equal Employment Alternative Fee in 2016, the present dispute started when 28 members of the nationwide staff participant pool filed swimsuit this previous March alleging gender discrimination.

The 2 sides subsequently agreed to enter mediation after the Ladies’s World Cup.

Cordeiro launched a public letter on July 29 that tried to make the case that U.S. Soccer had paid members of the ladies’s nationwide staff greater than their male counterparts over the span of practically a decade. Representatives of the gamers argued that the numbers unfairly counted the salaries that ladies gamers obtain for taking part in within the Nationwide Ladies’s Soccer League.

Requested about Cordeiro’s letter earlier than the opening sport of the present Victory Tour, Megan Rapinoe stated it caught her without warning as a result of it was her understanding that the 2 sides would not communicate publicly concerning the matter whereas mediation was ongoing.

No new mediation is at present scheduled.

“The world seems to be to the U.S. to steer,” Levinson stated. “And the gamers want to inform the world that the us pays ladies equally to males. The objective is equal pay.”

When requested if Wednesday’s assertion precluded any makes an attempt at additional mediation, Levinson pointed to a letter to U.S. Soccer officers dated Aug. 12 and signed by all 28 gamers concerned within the swimsuit that appears to go away open the opportunity of decision out of court docket.

“For each events, the danger of not resolving our disagreements over equal therapy that weren’t addressed both in bargaining or via the EEOC is just too excessive,” the letter from the gamers acknowledged. “U.S. Soccer’s repute, sponsor relations, fan help and federal funding for the 2026 World Cup event are all in danger, and that threat continues ought to we not attain decision. Now we have demonstrated that we are able to carry out at excessive ranges on the sector even whereas pursuing equality off the sector, however it’s definitely not what we need to proceed to undergo with a brand new coach and the upcoming Olympic Video games if a decision is feasible.

“Whereas we’re ready to take our equal pay battle via a trial if vital, we imagine that either side would profit from an equal pay and equal working situations settlement now.”

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Jay-Z songs intended to ‘challenge’ Stills

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MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores passionately defended his choice to play eight consecutive Jay-Z songs throughout Tuesday’s observe simply in the future after receiver Kenny Stills expressed disdain about how the hip-hop mogul went about his social justice partnership with the NFL.

As phrase of the stunt percolated all through social media and the web, many speculated on Flores’ motives for seemingly trolling one among his veteran gamers. Thursday, after the Dolphins’ 22-7 preseason win over the Jaguars, Flores was emotional in explaining his causes behind the motion. He mentioned the criticism about whether or not he helps what Stills stands for is with out benefit.

“It was a problem to Kenny to carry out no matter no matter is happening outdoors,” Flores mentioned of enjoying the Jay-Z songs. “I might say, and I mentioned this to him, he hasn’t carried out as much as that degree over the course of coaching camp, or as I’ve seen. In order that was the problem — to get open, catch the soccer and make performs for this crew, no matter what is going on on outdoors of this constructing.”

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The transfer appeared puzzling on the time as a result of it brought about one other distraction for a Dolphins crew that has been affected by non-football storylines this month. It was a Flores-induced distraction carried out very visibly in entrance of the media in response to one thing he was fearful is likely to be a distraction for one among his gamers.

Flores’ choice to play the Jay-Z songs at observe — clearly an in a single day choice, given the freshness of Stills’ feedback about Jay-Z — is likely to be perceived as a former Patriot assistant-turned-head coach enjoying Jedi thoughts video games with one among his key gamers.

However Flores mentioned he has put his phrases behind now. He made it clear that he feels, because the Dolphins coach, he can encourage his gamers nonetheless he chooses. He made the problem to Stills in entrance of the crew after the Jay-Z playlist was carried out. Then, after being stunned by the media consideration this story obtained, Flores mentioned he received up in entrance of the crew the subsequent day to inform them that he supported Stills and the participant protest.

“We talked about it in-house and he dealt with it in-house,” Stills mentioned. “For essentially the most half, I feel it was him seeing if I may deal with if individuals have been going to heckle me or play Jay-Z in one other stadium if I may very well be mentally sturdy sufficient to deal with that form of remedy. I have been coping with this since 2016 — music, boos, racial slurs. So I do not assume just a little Jay-Z music goes to ruffle my feathers that dangerous.”

Since 2016, Stills has been on the frontline of the NFL participant protest motion. Each recreation, together with Thursday evening, Stills has taken a knee in the course of the anthem to deliver consciousness to police brutality, social injustice and systemic oppression.

Flores appeared stunned that his assist for Stills’ trigger could be questioned. He took a breath and defined why he pertains to Stills’, Colin Kaepernick’s and Eric Reid’s protests a lot.

“Fairly actually, they’re bringing consideration to my story,” mentioned Flores, a local of Brooklyn (Brownsville), New York. “I am a son of immigrants. I am black. I grew up poor. I grew up in New York in the course of the stop-and-frisk period. So I have been stopped as a result of I match an outline earlier than. So every thing that these guys protest, I’ve lived it, I’ve skilled it. So I applaud these guys’ protest. So whether or not it is Kaepernick, or Eric Reid or Kenny, I applaud these guys. I advised Kenny that in our assembly in entrance of your entire crew.

“I do not understand how many individuals have, however I lived it. So I perceive why guys protest. And it is essential. And what else is essential to me? There’s 89 guys in that locker room who’re relying on Kenny to get open, catch the soccer and carry out for this crew. That is essential to me. And if anyone’s received an issue with that, then we have simply received an issue. We’ll conform to disagree. I really feel like that is essential and that is the place I stand on this factor.”

The Dolphins clearly need to transfer on from this second and get again to soccer. Nonetheless mentioned that he does not imagine it’s a huge deal.

“It is simply music,” mentioned Stills, including that he does not need this to be any extra of a distraction than it already is.

The remainder of the Dolphins’ locker room appears to be taking it in stride, even ribbing Stills about it.

On Monday, Stills criticized Jay-Z for a way he went about forming a social justice partnership with the NFL, significantly his comment that “we have moved previous kneeling, and I feel it is time to enter actionable gadgets.”

“He is not a NFL participant. He is by no means been on a knee,” Stills mentioned earlier this week. “Selecting to talk for the individuals like he had spoken to the individuals. … I’m wondering what number of widespread people who he is aware of or has spoken to. I’m wondering if he is learn my Fb feedback or my Instagram feedback or a few of the issues individuals say to me. To say we’re transferring previous one thing, it did not appear very knowledgeable.”

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Minnesota’s Opara eager to show former club SKC what it’s missing in MLS Rivalry Week

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Aug 20, 2019

Austin LindbergESPN FC

As a lot as issues have modified for Ike Opara, on the workplace, it is enterprise as common. Final season, he shepherded a protection that ranked fourth in Main League Soccer in each objectives in opposition to and anticipated objectives in opposition to. This season, the again line he leads ranks fourth in objectives in opposition to and seventh in anticipated objectives in opposition to.

What has modified is that these defenses are on two completely different groups: Sporting Kansas Metropolis in 2018 and Minnesota United this season. And the change in fortunes of these golf equipment — Minnesota’s anticipated objectives in opposition to has improved from 22nd within the league, whereas SKC’s objectives in opposition to has dropped to 20th in MLS — reveals simply how invaluable Opara is. All of which is ironic, contemplating that it’s worth that led him to depart Kansas Metropolis for the Twin Cities.

Twelve months faraway from successful MLS’ Defender of the 12 months Award in 2017, Opara was Sporting’s third-highest-paid center-back, together with his $342,916 annual wage lagging nicely behind new signing Andreu Fontas’ $999,999 and Matt Besler’s $783,250.

“I feel should you simply look across the league,” Opara stated in an unique interview with ESPN FC, “I feel objectively I had a really undervalued contract.”

So he requested for a brand new deal, a 12 months after signing a contract that improved his 2017 wage by almost $200,000.

“We had a dialogue to see if we might make this occur,” SKC supervisor and sporting director Peter Vermes instructed the Kansas Metropolis Star final offseason about Opara’s request. “Our assertion and remark to the participant was that we had some targets that we had already recognized previous to the tip of the season that we had been going to work on first, and if there have been monies left over, we would be prepared to have a dialog.

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“However it went public instantly, and that modified the best way this is able to be handled.”

After conceding 141 objectives in its first two seasons in MLS, Minnesota had set out final winter so as to add an skilled center-back, ideally somebody conversant in the league. By Jan. 28, Opara was a Loon.

“It was a problem that I used to be prepared to simply accept,” Opara stated forward of dealing with his former facet on Thursday (9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN). “[The Loons] had been able to proper the previous two years, as a result of nobody needs to surrender 70-plus objectives a 12 months. These guys had been sick and uninterested in listening to it.”

So United parted with $1 million in Focused Allocation Cash to convey the now-30-year-old to Minnesota.

“One or two folks raised just a few eyebrows and thought we overpaid for him,” Minnesota supervisor Adrian Heath instructed ESPN FC. “However as I’ve stated since we have got him: We bought him low cost.”

Ike Opara has been central to Minnesota United’s turnaround in 2019. Brace Hemmelgarn/USA TODAY Sports activities

It has been cash nicely spent. Minnesota United completed ninth within the Western Convention in every of its first two seasons in MLS; however with Opara anchoring the again line, the Loons are second in 2019 with a aim differential that has gone from minus-12 at this level final 12 months to plus-eight.

In fact, Opara cannot take all of the credit score. The membership’s entrance workplace signed former Seattle Sounders captain Osvaldo Alonso (who has proven few indicators of slowing down at age 33), midfielder Jan Gregus (who’s among the many league’s main creators from deep), right-back Romain Metanire (who was chosen to the All-Star group final month) and goalkeeper Vito Mannone (who has the third-most clear sheets within the league). Additionally they added left-back Chase Gasper and midfielder Hassani Dotson with their second and third picks within the SuperDraft, a pair that’s in within the dialog for rookie of the 12 months.

However central to the membership’s unbelievable stand up the desk has been a vastly improved protection, the place Opara’s bodily talents and management qualities have had a tangible impact on everybody round him — previous Loons and new Loons alike. And whereas his new membership thrives in his presence, his previous one has faltered with out him.

SKC are in jeopardy of lacking the postseason for the primary time since 2010, sitting 10th within the West, six factors out of the convention’s remaining playoff place.

To say that Sporting’s downturn is solely a results of Opara’s departure could be deceptive. The membership has been beset by accidents in 2019, dropping 141 man video games to damage this season, with 74 of these coming from gamers throughout the again line. Besler and Fontas, the center-back pairing who earned more cash than Opara in Kansas Metropolis final season, have been absent 12 instances this time period.

In the end, it has led to defending that Vermes has referred to as “horrible,” defending that “embarrassed” him.

“It is stuff that this group doesn’t do, however sadly, we’re doing it,” he was quoted as saying by journalist Andy Edwards. “And that is an issue.”

Amid its rash of accidents, Sporting is determined for the type of defensive depth that the 2017 Defender of the 12 months would’ve supplied. And with Opara on target to contend for this season’s award, he’ll have the chance to point out his former membership exactly what it’s lacking when he and Minnesota journey to Kansas Metropolis on Thursday.

“It is arduous to check these two seasons throughout two completely different groups, however in some methods, I feel I’m [playing better than in 2017],” Opara stated. “That is all the time one thing I have been striving for, is to be acknowledged as among the best defenders on this league.”

That recognition is prone to arrive sooner slightly than later. Contemplating Opara’s request for a larger contract earlier than becoming a member of Minnesota, and the membership’s dramatic turnaround since his arrival, it might be silly to not reward him financially. The adoration of his coach suggests a long-term cope with the Loons is in Opara’s future, and Heath additionally has campaigned for his center-back so as to add a second Defender of the 12 months award in three seasons.

“I have never seen anyone higher, I actually have not,” Heath stated. “If there’s anyone who’s going to beat him to Defender of the 12 months, he will need to have had some 12 months to have a greater 12 months than Ike Opara’s had.”

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Nagy defends Bears’ kicker search amid backlash

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LAKE FOREST, Sick. — Chicago Bears coach Matt Nagy defended the style during which his group carried out its offseason kicker search after a number of kickers who attended the rookie minicamp in Could on a tryout foundation and left and not using a contract have been extremely important of the method.

“I perceive — we introduced in a number of kickers that got here in right here,” Nagy mentioned Wednesday. “To me, I have a look at it as a constructive, in the truth that we mentioned we going to show over each stone to seek out whoever’s on the market. We felt like we, at that cut-off date, after we introduced in a bunch of kickers, we will take a look at all of them out and see what they’ll do.

“After which, inside that time-frame, we additionally put in some conditions with the Augusta Silence early on to see how they might deal with it. Is it precisely the right science? I do not know that, perhaps not…I simply actually like how we’re going by way of this factor. [Bears general manager] Ryan [Pace] and I discuss no regrets, proper?”

Sports activities Illustrated revealed a narrative Wednesday that quoted a number of of the 9 kickers — a few of them anonymously — who the Bears introduced in for an audition at rookie camp. The kickers’ vary of complaints included Nagy’s obsession with Parkey’s missed 43-yard discipline aim try in Chicago’s playoff loss to the Eagles (the notorious double-doink), the best way the Bears used metrics to judge the kickers, the general detrimental temper within the particular groups’ room and a perceived bias that concerned kicker marketing consultant Jamie Kohl, who the Bears employed to help them of their search.

Many, however not all, of the kickers invited to Halas Corridor had at one time kicked at one in every of Kohl’s camps.

“All of Jamie’s guys, they might have shanked the kick, and it was like, ‘Oh, you might have actually good rotation, your foot is wrapping across the ball,'” one kicker instructed SI. “I do not suppose this example will likely be solved or will likely be what the group must be till Jamie Kohl is gone. The best way he very a lot tries to manage a room, tries to be the alpha.”

One other kicker added: “All of the vibes they gave us through the specialists conferences simply didn’t appear constructive in any way. It did not appear to be anybody did properly. The vibe and the power was off.”

Former Notre Dame kicker Justin Yoon took difficulty with Nagy harping on Parkey’s 43-yard miss. The Bears repeatedly within the offseason program referred to as for his or her kickers to try discipline targets from 43 yards.

“It is not environment friendly for the group to constantly beat that one useless horse the entire time,” Yoon mentioned. “You must construct a system of confidence on your kicker. I do not suppose that is how the Bears are working it.”

The Bears finally whittled their checklist of kickers down to 2 at the start of coaching camp, however on Sunday, they waived Elliott Fry, which left Eddy Pineiro — acquired from the Raiders by way of a commerce — because the lone kicker left on Chicago’s present 90-man offseason roster.

The Bears need Pineiro to deal with all kicks within the closing two preseason video games, however he is not been assured of the job. Pineiro, who spent final 12 months on injured reserve in Oakland, has by no means tried a kick in an NFL regular-season sport.

“I actually do not imagine there is a kicker on the market that by no means misses in follow and within the video games,” Nagy mentioned. “It is the way you reply to it … so we preserve that in thoughts.

“Keep in mind what I instructed you earlier than, it is very easy in Chicago as a head coach of the Chicago Bears, as a fan of the Chicago Bears, because the media of the Chicago Bears, because the group of the Chicago Bears, it is very easy for us to only destroy each missed kick. And I feel we have now to maintain these issues in just a little perspective and never get too loopy over a missed kick right here or there.”

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