Members of the U.S. women’s ice hockey team announced Wednesday that they would be boycotting the upcoming world championships unless “significant progress” is made between the team and USA Hockey over the team’s wages and support structure. Forward Amanda Kessel was one of a number of players — 21 out of 23 on the team’s world championship roster — to tweet out the following statement Wednesday:
— Amanda Kessel (@AmandaKessel8) March 15, 2017
Hilary Knight, another member of the team, told NBC Sports that — barring significant progress in the negotiations — the team’s decision would have been the same had it been an Olympic year. The U.S. women have won a medal at each of the five Olympics at which women’s ice hockey has been contested (one gold, three silvers and a bronze).
“I think that speaks volumes, really, to the unity of our group, but also how passionate we are about standing up for equitable support,” she said.
The world championships are March 31-April 7 in Michigan, and the U.S. women were scheduled to attend training camp starting next week.
“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,” team captain Meghan Duggan said in a statement issued by the law firm that is representing the team. “We have represented our country with dignity and deserve to be treated with fairness and respect.”
A USA hockey spokesman did not immediately return an email seeking comment.
According to the law-firm statement, the U.S. women claim they are paid only during the six-month period that precedes the Olympics, and then only $1,000 per month. For the rest of the time between Olympics, USA Hockey pays them “virtually nothing,” the statement says, “despite its expectation that in each of the non-Olympic years, the players train full time and compete throughout the year, including in the World Championships.” The hockey players maintain this is a violation of the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act, which mandates that U.S. national governing bodies provide equitable support for men’s and women’s teams when they compete in separate programs.
As an example, the women claim USA Hockey spends approximately $3.5 million to support its boys’ National Team Development Program but does not conduct a comparable program for girls.
Alex Morgan, a member of the U.S. women’s soccer team that also is fighting for equal pay, tweeted out her support.