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USWNT brings in EEOC over gender-based pay discrimination

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The United States women's team has sued US Soccer over wage discrimination.

Andre Ringuette/Freestyle Photo/Getty Images

Five members of the USWNT filed a federal complaint today with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission accusing US Soccer of wage discrimination.

Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, Hope Solo, and Becky Sauerbrunn signed the complaint on behalf of the entire women's national team. They are being represented by Jeffrey Kessler, who has also represented NASL in an anti-trust suit against USSF and MLS.

The EEOC investigation could last beyond the end of the Rio Olympics, but statements made by the players indicate they would be willing to take labor action now in the form of a strike. In a media call this morning, Hope Solo did not limit the team's options.

All this takes place after a slew of confrontations between the WNT and USSF, with one of the most notable (but perhaps not the first) complaint coming before the 2015 Women's World Cup over the quality of playing surfaces in the venues. That complaint was ultimately dropped, but it came roaring back during the WNT's post-WWC Victory Tour in Hawaii, when the team boycotted the game over "unsafe field conditions."

Then there's the team's collective bargaining agreement dispute with the federation, as the team hasn't actually negotiated a new CBA since 2006, instead operating on extensions of that original agreement.

There have been other little things that have clearly built up over the years, with multiple interviews today pointing to things like per diems and travel conditions that add up to what the women feel is a pattern of unfair treatment.

USSF responded to the lawsuit with a statement calling themselves "a world leader" in growing women's soccer.

However team captain Becky Sauerbrunn remained visibly unimpressed.

Now it's up to the EEOC to make a determination if USSF has indeed discriminated against the WNT on the basis of gender; if they find against USSF, back pay could be in order for the players. And if they don't, the WNT has still leveraged a huge amount of publicity for their fight with the federation in their CBA negotiations.