The IX: Soccer Monday with Annie M. Peterson, December 7, 2020
The Royals are moving back to Kansas City — USWNT and U.S. Soccer are getting along better — Lots of woso links — Cindy Parlow Cone on the settlement
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Kudos to Jeff Kassouf of the Equalizer for breaking the story about the Utah Royals players being told the team is moving back to Kansas City. His story is here. The Athletic’s Meg Linehan and Paul Tenorio first reported on the possibility of a Kansas City move back on Nov. 24.
This is interesting because MLS Commissioner Don Garber originally said the preference was to sell all three Utah teams as a package.
But it’s been a few months since the announcement that Dell Loy Hansen was selling the teams, and so far, no clear takers.
A source with MLS told me that Ryan Smith, co-founder and CEO of Provo-based Qualtrics, was interested early on. Smith even took a tour of the facilities, another source told me.
But in a somewhat unexpected move in late October, Gail Miller announced the sale of the NBA’s Utah Jazz to Smith. So I’m guessing he isn’t in the market for a soccer team anymore.
That left Hansen’s organization without a potential buyer, which may prompt the MLS to take over Real Salt Lake in January. But there wasn’t much of a possibility that the NWSL could step in and take over the Royals.
It is sad that the NWSL’s tenure in Utah is coming to a close. I’ve been to Rio Tinto Stadium, and I absolutely loved their passionate fanbase. But given ALL the issues with the Royals — the toxic environment, the dismissal of Craig Harrington, the departure of the allocated players — perhaps it’s best that the club starts over.
It will be interesting to see if interim Royals coach Amy LePeilbet is retained — in some capacity — by the new management. I thought she had a good rapport with the players.
I’m echoing what others have said here: I wish Sporting Kansas City could see it’s way to allowing the NWSL team to play at Children’s Mercy Park. The new owners have been in touch with the team, but it appears unlikely to happen. Sporting in the past has cited the complications of staging games because of coronavirus, as well as the focus on other aspects of its business, including a Kansas City bid for 2026 World Cup games, for not sharing the stadium at this time.
The other thing that happened last week was U.S. Soccer’s settlement with the USWNT players in the part of their gender discrimination lawsuit that still survived, the dispute over unequal accommodations.
While it was a welcome development, and all signs pointed to the two sides continuing to negotiate, U.S. Soccer Cindy Parlow Cone indicated that the sticking point in the pay dispute was the World Cup prize money.
Couple of things to remember: The USWNT’s Collective Bargaining Agreement expires on Dec. 31, 2021. A decision from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals over the appeal of the equal pay part of the lawsuit likely wouldn’t happen until 2022.
So I’m guessing there’s no immediate rush to sit down together and reach a settlement. But expect it all to start to heat up again as the Olympics get closer.
You can see below for some of Parlow Cone’s comments. She spoke following the settlement with U.S. Soccer CEO Will Wilson.
On to the links!
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My story with AP colleague Ron Blum on the settlement.
Also: Alex Morgan scored for Tottenham on a PK!
Linehan on the U.S. Soccer settlement with the women’s national team, for The Athletic.
Sandra Herrera’s take on the O’Hara move for CBS Sports.
Guys, this story from John Halloran for The Equalizer about the USWNT’s visit to Azteca is really good. Loved this.
Also from the Equalizer: Kassouf’s Kickin Back podcast with Meg Linehan.
Speaking of Meg, the International Champions Cup announced its Best XI, an annual all-star team of folks who have done the most to advance women’s soccer. Meg is on the list! A tremendous and well-deserved honor!
Keeper Notes has updated its power rankings of the USWNT’s moms. Love this list.
You guys, there’s a new Substack newsletter called The Black Sportswoman. Bria Felicien wrote a great piece on Briana Scurry. Check it out and subscribe!
Kevin Baxter of the LA Times wrote a nice story on former national team defender Rachel BuehlerVan Hollebeke taking on COVID-19 as a doctor.
Alex Vejar’s take on the Utah Royals move for the Salt Lake Tribune.
Caitlin Murray with great insight into the settlement for Yahoo Sports.
Tweets of the Week: A story in three parts
It all started with a cute tweet from US Soccer.
Then Abby Wambach chimed in:
Paving the way for Sophia to post this:
Five at The IX: Cindy Parlow Cone’s comments on the settlement
Cindy Parlow Cone and Will Wilson spoke with reporters following the announcement of the settlement last week. Here is some of what they said:
Parlow Cone’s Opening statement: This is a good day. I hope everyone sees that we are a new U.S. Soccer. We’ve made significant changes in personnel, as well as having a new approach to the challenges and opportunities ahead of us. We have a new president , a new CEO. We have new leadership throughout our organization with new ideas. And I think this fresh approach helped us reach the settlement, and will serve us well and everything we do in the years ahead.
This settlement, as well as a transformed relationship with the foundation, demonstrate the commitment of our new leadership to find a new way forward and working together with our partners and our players. Coming to an agreement on the working conditions was just the first step. The goal for both sides in this was to really define a more structured way to provide both teams, the men and the women, with equitable support, also allowing for flexibility at the same time.
Question: Since the beginning, when you stepped in as president, obviously a very strange situation in terms of the mood between the federation and the players. Have the conversations actually started to progress beyond just settling these kind of lingering complaints, into actually having some more substantial conversations on the equal pay front?
Parlow Cone: That is certainly our hope. I hope that the women and their lawyers see that we are taking a new approach. The way we reached this settlement was in a collaborative way. There was a lot of back and forth and trying to understand where each side was coming from. And that’s how we reached this resolution. So it is my hope that we continue down this path and are able to find a resolution on all aspects of this litigation.
Question: Do you feel like this this agreement today is a positive step in kind of the bigger relationship beyond some of the legal parts that we’re talking about now, but even looking forward to negotiating in a year’s time or whenever that might be.
Parlow Cone: I think part of this is, we want the women’s team, as well as their lawyers, to see that we want to move in a different direction. We want to have a different relationship with them. We want to work together. And I think they’re starting to see that. And we have to continue down this path. I mean that’s the hope, and that we can continue to collaborate together to come to a resolution on all aspects of this litigation so that we can continue to rebuild the trust between the players and the federation.
Question: Do these terms on travel and the hotels, are they on the men’s side for the current men’s deal, or the next successor CBA?
Will Wilson: So the policies are specific to the women, in that they’re the ones that were raised through the litigation and were the Title VII claims. Our goal with both teams is to provide the best world-class services that we can and for it to be equitable. Obviously, there are differences between the men’s and women’s calendar, or the games they play and when they play them. So what we’ve contemplated is the structure that is equitable, that provides flexibility for the different teams. And then, obviously, as our relationship with both entities and unions progress, and we look at each agreement, that will certainly be contemplated as we go forward. But these policies specifically will fall into the current CBA for the women.
Question: I wonder if we can go in a little bit more specifics on the venue part of this. Obviously, that’s been a very public part of going back and forth for many years now. What’s your perspective on it and how that will play out going forward.
Parlow Cone: I think, as you can imagine, where the national teams’ games are going to be played is a very complex process that both teams go through to find out what the best venue is for each game. Obviously, right now, given Covid, that gets a little bit even more complex right now, depending on how things are different from state to state. But I think we arrived at a place where both the women and the federation are comfortable. It allows us some flexibility in terms of where we’re playing the games. And I think they ended up at a place where they were happy and they received the markets that they really wanted to play in.
Question for Will: With the with the end of this women’s CBA visible on the horizon. And with the men still not formally having one, you think there is an opening here to get everybody into the room at the same time and get everyone on the same level.
Will Wilson: That’s probably a better question for the unions themselves in terms of approaching it in that way, but you do highlight that there is going to be crossover between the two. So obviously we’re looking at it through that lens and that’s something that we contemplate.
Question: Are you able to provide any details of the non-compensation part of the settlement? And does this mean you’re going to try to settle the pay dispute as well?
Parlow Cone: Obviously, as I said before, our aim is to find a resolution with our women’s national team and we’re committed to doing that. We’ve reached out to them, we’ve offered them the same contract as the men for all games that are controlled by U.S. Soccer. But unfortunately, the response has been that they didn’t want to negotiate with U.S. Soccer unless U.S. Soccer was willing to make up the FIFA World Cup prize money, which you all know is the vast majority of the $66 million that they requesting in back pay. And we all know this just isn’t possible from U.S. Soccer’s standpoint to make that up. Even pre-COVID, this would be devastating to our budget and to our programing. But given COVID, not to be overly dramatic, but it would likely bankrupt the federation.
Question: And how about the details on the settlement, in terms of travel, venues, etc.?
Will Wilson: We’re not really in the position to provide a lot of detail on it. I think the key thing is that we have agreed on a path forward that works. It took a lot of work to get there, a very collaborative approach to get to that, and to get to where we’ve we’ve landed. The key sort of phrase where it’s equitable and gives flexibility, depending on the national team, if you will. So, we’re happy about where we’ve where we’ve landed on this. It’s an important step. I mean obviously, these are difficult conversations that take place over a long time. So a lot of good work had been done previously that we’ve picked up the mantle and have just tried to move things forward in a positive way.