Yesterday, we had a huge legal win. A panel of three independent arbitrators ruled unanimously that U.S. Soccer is in violation of Federal Law under the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act. This is a massive first step in holding U.S. Soccer accountable and protecting athletes’ rights.
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PLEASE READ/WATCH: Yesterday, we had a huge legal win. A panel of three AAA arbitrators ruled that @ussoccer is in violation of Federal Law under the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act and @teamusa bylaws. This is a massive first step in holding U.S. Soccer accountable and protecting athletes’ rights. It’s crazy that we even have to wage legal battles in order to force our national governing body to simply abide by the law. But we do. And it’s a long road. Nothing happens overnight and there are times you question whether anything will ever really change. Then you get news like this and you know it’s worth it, know change is possible, and know more than ever, that you need to stay the course. This is only a first step, but it’s a big one. And it’s a win for everybody who loves this sport. Power to the People ✊🏼 Link to more details and the full history of this fight in my bio.
Eighteen months ago, I filed a complaint against U.S. Soccer with the USOC. The reason was simple: U. S. Soccer was breaking federal law under the Ted Stevens Act. It was failing to live up to its responsibilities as the sport’s national governing body – not just for the Women’s National Team and our fight for equality, but for families across the country who can’t afford for their kids to play, the underserved communities who don’t have the same opportunities, the unsupported Paralympic and deaf athletes, and everyone else in between.
What did the USOC do? Nothing. They dismissed it. They told me I needed to file a complaint with the very organization I was making a complaint against, one that has time and time again, refused to do right by its athletes. Worse, U.S. Soccer’s process for dealing with complaints looks like this: athlete files complaint, U.S. Soccer hand picks a single arbitrator to hear the complaint. It doesn’t take much to see the athlete has little chance of succeeding. Not only is the process a joke, it’s against the law.
The Stevens Act requires that all decision-making bodies, including Grievance panels, have 20% athlete representation. U.S. Soccer, in a blatant violation of Federal law, quietly changed its bylaws about 10 years ago to bypass the 20% athlete representation requirement. I am also certain that 99% of our USSF athletes are not aware this right was stripped of them years ago.
The USOC’s decision to dismiss the complaint made no sense. The USOC is duty bound to protect the rights of athletes and in this case, they looked the other way. I responded by filing a demand for arbitration with the American Arbitration Association. (A full copy of the filing can be found here.) I asked the AAA panel to determine that the USOC made a mistake — that they had a responsibility to hear my complaint and evaluate the merits of the issues. The panel’s ruling now forces the USOC to do that. This is a massive first step in holding U.S. Soccer accountable and protecting athletes’ rights.