US Women's National Team sues soccer's governing body for gender discrimination on International Women's Day

Omar Vega/Getty Images(NEW YORK) --  Athletes on the world champion U.S. Women's National Team sued the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) Friday for gender discrimination, blasting the sport's governing body for allegedly paying mere "lip service" to gender equality and dishing out markedly more pay to the decidedly less successful men's team.

The scathing lawsuit, filed in California federal court on International Women's Day, comes after years of public battles from the USWNT for equal pay and conditions and three months before the team is scheduled to begin competition at the FIFA World Cup, where they will be returning as defending champions.

"In reality, the USSF has utterly failed to promote gender equality," the lawsuit reads. "It has stubbornly refused to treat its female employees who are members of the [women's national team] equally to its male employees who are members of the [men's national team]."

The USSF, the lawsuit claims, "has paid only lip service to gender equality and continues to practice gender-based discrimination against its champion female employees on the WNT in comparison to its less successful male employees on the MNT."

"Despite the fact that these female and male players are called upon to perform the same job responsibilities on their teams and participate in international competitions for their single common employer, the USSF, the female players have been consistently paid less money than their male counterparts," the suit says.

"This is true even though their performance has been superior to that of the male players – with the female players, in contrast to male players, becoming world champions."

The U.S. men's soccer team did not qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Their best finish was third place -- in 1930. The U.S. women's team, on the other hand, has won the World Cup three times -- in 1991, 1999 and 2015 -- and the gold medal at the Olympics four times, most recently in 2012.

The 28 members of the 2015 winning team are all named as plaintiffs, including stars Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe and Carli Lloyd, and the suit requests class action status to represent players who have been on the team since February of that year.

The suit seeks back pay including interest and benefits, damages, attorneys' fees and other relief.

The suit says that female players earned $15,000 for making the World Cup team in 2013. On the other hand, men earned $55,000 for making the team in 2014 and $68,750 in 2018.

"The pay for advancement through the rounds of the World Cup was so skewed that, in 2014, the USSF provided the MNT with performance bonuses totaling $5,375,000 for losing in the Round of 16, while, in 2015, the USSF provided the WNT with only $1,725,000 for winning the entire tournament," the lawsuit reads. "The WNT earned more than three times less than the MNT while performing demonstrably better."

The lawsuit cites not just pay, but also the denial of "at least equal playing, training, and travel conditions; equal promotion of their games; equal support and development for their games; and other terms and conditions of employment."

In 2015, athletes complained about playing conditions after Rapinoe tore her ACL during training on a grass field that was reportedly described as being in bad shape. U.S. Soccer then canceled a match in Honolulu as its turf was "not suitable."

That the women's team, but not the men's, was subjected to playing on turf fields was a regular issue between athletes and U.S. Soccer.

In 2017, the women's team reached an agreement with the USSF after filing a complaint with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission over pay.

The agreement included direct and bonus pay increases and per diems equal to the men's team, according to ESPNW, as well as improved travel and financial support for pregnant or adopting players. It also included required improvements in National Women's Soccer League standards.

In February, the EEOC issued the soccer players a "right to sue," the new lawsuit indicates, which is required to sue for discrimination under federal law.

The USWNT is not the only women's team fighting for equal pay and conditions. The women's national hockey team has been on its own mission, following the soccer team and spurred by its victory at the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Similarly, the WNBA and tennis players have also been making calls for equal pay, prize money, conditions and infrastructure.

U.S. Soccer told ABC News it does not comment on ongoing legal matters.

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Serena Williams pens powerful letter on International Women's Day

Chris Hyde/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Serena Williams wrote a heartfelt essay for International Women's Day about the meaning of day to her and the lessons she wants to impart to her daughter.

The tennis star, who is an outspoken proponent of equality and empowering young women, described the special day as a "reinvigorated call to action," in her piece for Fortune.

She discussed some of the standards she feels are forced upon women in society.

"In our fast-paced world, expectations for women continue to rise, as do workplace demands and, unfortunately, double standards," she wrote.

"Navigating it all is especially tough for working moms, myself included —- I feel the pressure both on and off the court," she continued. "Even with all the resources I’m incredibly blessed to have, motherhood comes with so many unexpected challenges, especially when it’s time to go back to work."

She expanded on the balance she's trying to find between motherhood and her career, after giving birth to daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr., in 2017.

"Now that I have Olympia, she is my absolute priority —- spending as much time as possible with her every day is so important to me," she wrote. "But I’m still training to win Grand Slams and sometimes I have to make hard choices about how I spend my time."

"I’ve cried over Olympia so many times that I’ve lost count," she continued. "I cried when I stopped breastfeeding. I sat with Olympia in my arms, I talked to her, we prayed about it, and I told her, 'Mommy has to do this.' I cried when I missed Olympia’s first steps because I was in training."

"I’m honest about my struggles as a working mom because I want other women out there to know they are not alone," she added. "We have to show ourselves and our female counterparts compassion and reality."

However, she realizes that she doesn't have to sacrifice her career choices in order to have a family.

"Since I was a little girl, I’ve dreamed of being the best tennis player in the world ... but I also dreamed of having a family," she wrote. "The dream was not divided — it was to be successful in both arenas."

"I want to stay in this game long enough for Olympia to watch me, cheer me on, and be proud to say, 'That’s my Mom.' I want her and all women out there to know you can be whatever you want to be," she continued. "Dream big. The sky is the limit. Take risks."

She said that her dreams are "just beginning."

"I want Olympia to see and remember her mom winning a Grand Slam title," she wrote. "I want her to know that my work fulfills me, that I’m proud and passionate about what I do even if I’m not perfect at it, and that she should never give up on her dreams."

"I want her to see a world of possibilities at her feet and to believe in those first steps she took when I was training, every time she takes a leap toward her goals— however big the risk," she added.

In working to balance time with her daughter and being one of the most successful athletes in the world, she wrote that she's come to an important realization.

"I want to make it clear that perfection is an impossible goal and should never be a true pursuit in life. And this is something I’ve had to come to terms with myself," she shared.

Williams believes in the power of supporting other women and feels others should as well.

"While I think all women are superheroes, we are not superhuman and we need each other’s support," she wrote. "We need to give each other grace when we fall short—and when society sets unrealistic expectations or our workplaces have antiquated rules."

For the piece, she also asked SurveyMonkey, an online survey company for which she is a board member, to conduct surveys focusing on adversity women face in different aspects of their every day lives.

"One focuses on the experiences of working parents, while the other delves into those of all women in the workforce," she explained. "After reviewing the results, one thing is clear: many of us are facing strikingly similar challenges."

"Our data show that women are four times more likely to say they provide more childcare than their male partner—pulling a double shift at work and home," she explained.

"This contributes to the fact that nearly half of women say they have sacrificed career goals for their family. I know I did," she added. "More than half of moms feel guilty leaving their children to go to work and a third say their job makes it challenging to do the things they want and need to do for their family. Forget the cliché of ‘having it all,’ the reality is, women are trying to do it all."

Williams finished the piece with a call to action.

"On International Women’s Day, let’s promise to come together and support one another in honor of all the groundbreaking women who came before us—and those who are proudly following our lead.

"We must band together and fight for what’s fair," she added.

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LSU suspend's men's basketball coach Will Wade indefinitely

Sean Gardner/Getty Images(BATON ROUGE, La.) -- LSU has suspended men's basketball coach Will Wade indefinitely after reports said he was heard on FBI wiretap's discussing an 'offer' for a recruit, the school announced Friday.

The calls were between Wade and aspiring businessman Christian Dawkins and were intercepted in October 2017 when the FBI was monitoring one of Dawkins cell phones as part of the FBI's secret investigation into college basketball corruption.

Dawkins was sentenced to six months in jail earlier this week after being found guilty of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with the investigation.

According to people familiar with the calls, the recruit mentioned is current LSU guard Javonte Smart, who was a top-50 recruit from Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

LSU President and Chancellor F. King Alexander and Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Joe Alleva released a joint statement about Wade's suspension.

"Recent media reports regarding Coach Will Wade are without question concerning to us all. As such, we and university officials have taken deliberate and purposeful steps to fairly assess and adequately address the situation. As we have done since media reports first surfaced months ago, we are closely coordinating with the NCAA with every step. They have our full full cooperation and we will continue to report to them all facts and information on this matter. All of us at LSU share the obligation to protect the integrity of this institution, as such we have suspended Head Coach Will Wade indefinitely until such time as we can ensure full compliance with the NCAA, as well as institutional policies and standards. Assistant coach Tony Benford will assume the duties of interim coach."

LSU is ranked tenth in the nation with a 25-5 record and is tied for first in the SEC with a 15-2 record. The Tigers play Vanderbilt on Saturday in their final regular season game.

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Harvard University runner loses shoe, wins 2 races with bloody, mangled foot

Zeiss4Me/iStock(CAMBRIDGE, Mass.) -- Jaws dropped when Harvard University junior Kieran Tuntivate managed to win two races in this year's Ivy League Heptagonal Championships, despite a gruesome injury that left him with a large open wound on the bottom of his foot.

Tuntivate, 22, thought he had a serious case of bad luck on Feb. 23 when another runner stepped on his foot and caused him to lose his shoe during the first lap of an intense 3,000-meter race at the indoor meet.

Tuntivate, who's been running competitively since age 12, said he only had two options in the moment: stop to recover his shoe and likely lose the race or keep running and risk an injury. He decided to keep going and he ended up winning the race without his left shoe. But the top prize came at a bloody and painful price.

"It felt kind of natural at first, but I kind of expected it to start hurting eventually with the really abrasive surface of the track," Tuntivate told ABC News in an interview on Thursday. "Around 2,000 meters -- about two-thirds into the race -- is when it really started to hurt.

"I think the damage was probably the same as if you were running on loose gravel or cinder surface," he added.

Despite the risk of sustaining a serious injury, Tuntivate said he never seriously considered stopping.

"It's the Ivy League Championships, so there's a lot of history there and a lot of rivalries with the other schools," he said. "Instincts just kicked in. I didn't really think about how much my foot was going to be damaged afterward. If I had known, I probably would have stopped."

Harvard cross country and track and field coach Alex Gibby said he thought about stopping Tuntivate mid-race, but the athlete's cool and calm demeanor convinced him to let the junior continue.

"One of the things you're evaluating as a coach when something like this happens is how is the athlete is responding. If he's frantic, if he's beside himself or if he's lost control in the moment, then you're probably going to pull him out," Gibby told ABC News on Thursday. "I realized that he wasn't panicked and I said, 'The heck with it, let's let this thing ride.'"

Tuntivate said he lost a lot of skin by running on what "felt like sandpaper." He said his doctor compared the skin loss to what one experiences after a third-degree burn, but the runner kept pushing and managed to win in the 5,000 meters the following day.

"From my prospective, where his legend was cemented was coming back the next day on a bum wheel, in his training flats and finishing the job off in the 5,000. That's what was really special," Gibby said. "Ninety-nine percent of the people in his situation wouldn't have finished the race in the 3,000. Of the remaining 1 percent, another 99 percent probably would not have started the next day."

Tuntivate said he's still in a lot of pain two weeks later, but his foot seems to be about 90 percent healed. And although it feels good to win, the lingering pain and the annoying aftercare makes him wonder if he made the right decision.

"It was definitely pretty gory at first. I thought there was no way that I would be able to run the 5K the next day," Tuntivate said. "I wouldn't advise others to do the same thing. I would tell them to stop and put their shoe on or either stop and wait for another race.

"I don't think it's worth the amount of pain and discomfort," he added.

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IndyCar driver who survived fiery crash hopes to walk at his wedding

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- An IndyCar driver who crashed at a speed of over 200 mph into a wall, a fence and another car spoke about the harrowing experience that left him unable to walk and says he hopes to train hard enough to walk at his wedding, and even get back into his race car.

The crash last August, which was captured on video, could have been deadly for driver Robert Wickens, 29, who sustained multiple injuries to his legs, arms and spine.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with ABC News' Good Morning America from a rehab facility in Colorado, Wickens and his fiancee, Karli Woods, recalled the over half-dozen injuries he suffered in the crash.

Woods said she realized the severity of her partner's injuries "the moment I walked into the hospital room."

"They just said, 'He's paralyzed,'" she said. "And they didn't even know if he was going make it."

She recalled how he looked immediately after the crash, saying he was on a ventilator, "And everything was, you know, casted and in braces and neck brace and black eyes. ... That was the hard part."

Wickens explained the long list of injuries he sustained to GMA, which included a broken tibia and fibula in both legs, a fractured right hand, an ulna fracture in his right arm, a dislocated elbow, a broken ring finger, spinal fractures, a concussion and either "four or six" broken ribs.

"I think that's it," he said after listing his injuries.

While doctors couldn't tell the couple if Wickens would ever be able to walk again, he said he is determined, focusing on his recovery with a special goal in mind: His wedding this coming September.

"Goal No. 1," he said, is being able to walk at his wedding.

"And then shortly after that, goal No. 2 is to see ... if I'm fit enough to try and get back in an IndyCar for the 2020 season," he added.

He acknowledged that this is a very unrealistic goal, but added, "I've spent my whole life thinking unrealistically."

In the six short months since his accident, Wickens has already made huge strides in his recovery: standing on his own, walking with a walker and even pedaling on a bike.

He says he's never worked this hard for anything in his life, "not even close."

"I've been a hard worker my whole life, but this ... nothing even comes close to, to what this is," Wickens said.
The race car driver said he strives to be the best in what he does, and that includes "I want to be the best spinal recovery ... in the history of spinal recoveries."

"I'm getting more and more back every day," he added. "There still ... some numb spots for sure ... and then I'm starting to feel some pain."

He said he welcomes the feelings, however, noting how when he was doing laundry the other day he took "everything out of the dryer and put it on my lap."

"And I could feel the heat of, like, the clothes," he said. "And that was, like, the first time ... I've noticed that I felt temperature."

This weekend, the couple will travel to St. Petersburg, Florida, to watch the start of the IndyCar season, remaining hopeful that one day he'll be back behind the wheel.

Despite everything, Woods said she supports seeing her fiance's return to a race car, if he wants to compete again.

"I do now. If you asked me that a few months ago it would be a hard no," she said. "I did not want him to race again."

She added that she was "so afraid to lose him" during the first month after his injury.

"And now, you know, I just see all of the work that he's putting into everything," she said. "And I look forward to the day that he gets back in a car."

Despite almost dying, Wickens said he has no hesitancy to get back behind the wheel.

"Maybe I take half a lap and go, like, 'Nope, nope, nope,'" he quipped. "'Not for me,'" but I really don't see that happening."

If there is one thing Wickens hopes people take away from his story it is "to show anybody out there that nothing's impossible."

He continued: "That all you have to do is just work hard, and hard work and determination prevails, every single time."

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Mets great Tom Seaver diagnosed with dementia at 74

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Seaver, the star of the Miracle Mets 1969 World Series championship team, has been diagnosed with dementia at age 74.

His family made the announcement Thursday through the Hall and said Seaver has retired from public life. He will continue to work at Seaver Vineyards, founded by the retired player and wife Nancy in 2002 on 116 acres at Diamond Mountain in the Calistoga region of California.

Seaver was diagnosed with Lyme disease in 1991, and it reoccurred in 2012 and led to Bell's Palsy and memory loss, the New York Daily News reported in 2013.

"He will always be the heart and soul of the Mets, the standard which all Mets aspire to, this breaks my heart," tweeted former Mets catcher Mike Piazza, a fellow Hall of Famer. "Do not feel worthy to be mentioned in the same breath."

Seaver has limited his public appearances in recent years. He did not attend the Baseball Writers' Association of America dinner in January where members of the 1969 team were honored on the 50th anniversary of what still ranks among baseball's most unexpected champions.

A three-time NL Cy Young Award winner and the 1967 NL Rookie of the Year, Seaver was 311-205 with a 2.86 ERA, 3,640 strikeouts and 61 shutouts from 1967-86. A five-time 20-game winner nicknamed Tom Terrific, Seaver was elected to the Hall in 1992 when he appeared on 425 of 430 ballots for a then-record 98.84 percent. His mark was surpassed in 2016 by Ken Griffey Jr. and this year by Mariano Rivera, the first unanimous selection.

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New Stephen Curry sneaker inspired by young girl debuts on International Women's Day

Under Armour(OAKLAND, Calif.) -- In honor of International Women's Day, a young girl who made a profound impact on her favorite basketball team's star player, Stephen Curry, received the first pair of the Curry 6 purple sneakers a day before their official release.

On Thursday, Riley Morrison was at Curry's downtown Oakland, California pop-up store to show off the brand new Curry 6 shoe -- "a blend of purple and deep orchid with white," according to Under Armour -- and a sock liner that she helped design, according to espnW.

Under Armour

As she was taking in her influential moment, her basketball idol stopped by to surprise her.

"It was extremely surprising," Riley told espnW, after the exciting and unexpected cameo. "He's a good person and extremely nice."

Morrison, a 9-year-old Golden State Warriors fan, first caught the point guard's attention with her powerful letter in November about his Curry 5s signature Under Armour basketball shoe collection that she hoped would be sized for girls and women.

"I know you support girl athletes because you have two daughters and you host an all-girls basketball camp. I hope you can work with Under Armor to change this because girls want to rock the Curry 5's too," she wrote.

Curry's hand-written response went viral, and he personally invited Morrison and her family to attend the launch of the Curry 6 "United We Win" shoe.

The surprise moment sealed an already sweet deal, that was "believed to be the first time a marquee male athlete has been the face of a basketball shoe made specifically for women and girls," espnW wrote.

The excited fourth-grader from Napa Valley strutted her new Curry 6s around the store as she answered media questions.

The two-time MVP praised Morrison, saying she "had the courage to use her voice to call attention to an issue and keep us accountable."

"She was focused on the opportunity for all girls, not just herself," he continued. "She is inspiring, and wise beyond her years."

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Dan Jenkins, sports writing great and author, dies at 89

Ben Noey Jr./Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT via Getty Images(FORT WORTH, Texas) -- Dan Jenkins, the sports writing great and best-selling author known for his humor, has died. He was 89.

Texas Christian University athletic director Jeremiah Donati confirmed Jenkins died Thursday in his hometown of Fort Worth, Texas.

Jenkins started his writing career at The Fort Worth Press and rose to stardom at Sports Illustrated. He wrote best-sellers Semi-Tough, Baja Oklahoma and Dead Solid Perfect, and was a columnist for Playboy and Golf Digest.

Jenkins played golf at TCU and was a close friend of the late golf great Ben Hogan, also a Fort Worth native. Jenkins is a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame.

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Scoreboard roundup -- 3/7/19

iStock(NEW YORK) -- Here are the scores from Thursday’s sports events:


Philadelphia 3, Detroit 1
NY Yankees 6, Philadelphia 0
Pittsburgh 5, Baltimore 4
Houston 4, Miami 1
Chi White Sox 9, Milwaukee 5
San Diego 11, Texas 8
Cleveland 4, Arizona 3
LA Dodgers 6, LA Angels 2
Seattle 11, Cincinnati 3
Oakland 5, San Francisco 1


Minnesota 12, Boston 1
Toronto 11, Tampa Bay 2
Kansas City 8, LA Angels 7

Washington 6, NY Mets 4
Colorado 7, Chi Cubs 5

Milwaukee 117, Indiana 98
OT Oklahoma City 129, Portland 121

Boston 4, Florida 3
Pittsburgh 3, Columbus 0
SO Detroit 3, NY Rangers 2
NY Islanders 4, Ottawa 2
Minnesota 3, Tampa Bay 0
Dallas 4, Colorado 0
SO Chicago 5, Buffalo 4
Edmonton 3, Vancouver 2
Arizona 2, Calgary 0
San Jose 5, Montreal 2
St. Louis 4, L.A. Kings 0

(12) Houston 90, SMU 79
(25) UCF 58, (20) Cincinnati 55
(21) Wisconsin 65, Iowa 45

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LeBron James passes Michael Jordan in career points

Allen Kee / ESPN Images(LOS ANGELES) -- LeBron James has surpassed Michael Jordan on the NBA's all-time points list.

The Los Angeles Lakers forward tied Jordan’s 32,292 career points with a fadeaway in the second quarter of Wednesday night’s game against the Denver Nuggets. James later broke Jordan’s record in the same quarter with a layup.

He ended the game with 31 points, but it wasn’t enough to defeat the Nuggets, who beat the Lakers 115-99.

After the game, James told reporters that passing Jordan in career points “ranks right up there at the top with winning a championship.”

"It’s just, I mean, for a kid from Akron, Ohio that needed inspiration and needed some type of positive influence, MJ was that guy for me,” James, 34, said. “I watched him from afar, wanted to be like MJ, wanted to shoot fadeaways like MJ, wanted to stick my tongue out on dunks like MJ, wanted to wear my sneaks like MJ, wanted kids to look up to me some day like MJ. It’s crazy, to be honest. It’s beyond crazy."

After passing Jordan, James is now in fourth place on the NBA's all-time points list behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387 points), Karl Malone (36,928 points) and Kobe Bryant (33,643 points).

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