In a sharp twist in a years-long struggle to get a new collective bargaining agreement settled, U.S. Soccer filed a lawsuit against the United States Women's National Team in federal court Wednesday. The federation and the 2015 World Cup winners have been trying to negotiate a new CBA since the previous one expired in 2012. That previous CBA has continued on as the controlling document in the interim. It appears USWNT sought to hasten the process by threatening to "repudiate the agreement" and U.S. Soccer felt it had no other choice but to sue.
U.S. Soccer said in the filing that it "reluctantly" brought the action against its players, who won the Women's World Cup in Canada over the summer, after the lawyer for the players threatened to repudiate the agreement. The lawyer, Richard Nichols, told U.S. Soccer that doing so would allow the players to engage in labor actions to force a new agreement, the federation said.
U.S. Soccer claims it was concerned the upcoming National Women's Soccer League—a league run by U.S. Soccer—schedule and possibly even USWNT's participation in the Rio Olympics could be "disrupt[ed]" by discarding the CBA, so they sued to prevent that from happening. Essentially, it sounds like USWNT's attorney floated the possibility of a strike, or perhaps a suit of their own in order to force meaningful negotiation. Presumably the federation has filed for an injunction to prevent USWNT from breaking from the terms of the prior CBA.
Things have grown increasingly (and publicly) testy between the two sides, most recently with the turf fiasco in Hawaii for the post-World Cup victory tour that was canceled after Megan Rapinoe suffered an ACL injury in part due to the shoddy conditions at the venue. The disparity in treatment between the men's and women's sides—including travel accommodations—has been a constant and legitimate concern for the women.