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Gulati says tone has shifted in CBA talks

U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati says CBA negotiations with the players have taken a more positive tone

U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati says CBA negotiations with the players have taken a more positive tone

U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati said over the weekend at the tone of negotiations with the USWNT Players Association had taken a turn for the better since the players made a change in legal representation

“They’ve got new representation,” Gulati said over the weekend in San Diego where the men’s national team played Serbia to a scoreless draw. “There’s a completely different tone in the discussions.”

The players replaced Rich Nichols in late December and have not publicly announced his replacement. They have also shuffled the deck among players with prominent roles. Carli Lloyd recently stepped back and Christen Press has taken a more prominent role. Gulati’s comments were made during a media scrum and were reported by Scott French of FourFourTwo.

The federation’s collective bargaining agreement with the players has been a source of tension for years. The sides came to an impasse in 2013 before signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) but never a new CBA per se. The MOU expired at the end of 2016 however either side must give 60 days’ notice to terminate the agreement and enact a work stoppage. Neither side has publicly acknowledged starting the clock and Gulati’s comments suggest finalizing a new deal could be closer than a work stoppage.

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Speaking at the NWSL Draft and USWNT camp respectively, commissioner Jeff Plush and U.S. co-captain Becky Sauerbrunn refused to guarantee that national team players will be with their clubs in preseason without a new deal.

“That will have to run its course and when that gets done, those players will be in camp as well,” Plush said of the negotiations. “I have a lot of confidence in the long term.

“I’m not going to comment on what could happen.”

The next day Sauerbrunn said players had “every intention” of being in NWSL camps but would not make it a guarantee. Beyond that players have been mostly quiet on the matter since a 60 Minutes appearance in November. They spent much of 2016 insisting on a deal that gave them the same pay structure as the men’s team.

Gulati added that meetings are set up over the next few weeks and that he remains hopeful.

“We’ve had two or three meetings, and there’s a series of meetings set up for the next few weeks, and I’m hopeful because there’s a completely different tone to the dialogue.”

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