U.S. Women’s Hockey Team Threatens Championship Boycott Over Wages Dispute

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Hilary Knight and the U.S. women’s hockey team are taking a stand against unequal pay.

Knight announced Wednesday in a statement on Twitter that she and her teammates will not be playing in the 2017 IIHF World Championship unless “significant progress” is made to settle a dispute with USA Hockey over unfair wages.

Team USA players informed USA Hockey on Wednesday that they won’t report to training camp next week or play in the tournament, which begins March 31, unless a deal is reached, per ESPNW.

“We are asking for a living wage and for USA Hockey to fully support its programs for women and girls and stop treating us like an afterthought,” USA captain Meghan Duggan told ESPNW. “We have represented our country with dignity and deserve to be treated with fairness and respect.”

According to ESPNW, USA Hockey has paid the women’s team just $1,000 per month during their six-month residency period at the Winter Olympics and “virtually nothing” over the rest of that four-year period, meaning they earn roughly $6,000 over a four-year span despite being asked to train full-time.

USA Hockey claimed in a statement that it’s prepared to pay each player much higher wages at the 2018 Winter Olympics, providing nearly $85,000 in cash for each player through “additional support stipends and medal incentives.” But John B. Langel, an attorney who is representing the U.S. women in contract negotiations, balked at that number.

“That is so incredibly misleading, and you can quote me on that,” Langel told ESPNW. “That couples the (U.S. Olympic Committee) money with their (federation) money and assumes the women win gold at the 2018 Olympics. That amount would only apply to the Olympic year. And more than $60,000 of it would come from the USOC.”

According to the players, USA Hockey also spends roughly $3.5 million on a national team development program for men, but there’s no comparable program for women.

USA Hockey says it still plans to field a “competitive team” if Knight and her teammates follow through on the boycott.

“Good luck getting a suitable No. 1 competition to represent our country on a world stage,” Knight said, via ESPNW. “I kind of dare them.”

Thumbnail photo via Richard Mackson/USA TODAY Sports Images

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