US women settle wage dispute

Players on the US women's soccer team will be part owners of a league planned to start next year, the first such arrangement for any major professional sport in the country.

Players on the US women's soccer team will be part owners of a league planned to start next year, the first such arrangement for any major professional sport in the country.

The World Cup champions, who boycotted two games in a wage dispute, agreed to a five-year contract that raises the minimum monthly salary for star players from $3,150 to $5,000, the US Soccer Federation said on Tuesday. For the first time in soccer, the deal gives women on a national team the same salary as men.

John Langel, the players' lawyer, said the players would get part ownership of a league planned to start in April 2001.

No other major sports league in the United States allows players to be part owners.

The US team begins preparations on Sunday for the Sydney Olympics, with an exhibition game against Norway, in Florida.

Mia Hamm, perhaps the best-known player on the World Cup champions, said the boycott was worth it.

"This is something we all felt strongly in. This is something we all believed in," she said at a news conference.

A clause in the contract guarantees the women the same percentage of money as the men.

But the big difference is payments from FIFA, soccer's governing body. While FIFA gave the USSF $800,000 for each of the three games the men played at the 1998 World Cup, it didn't give the federation any money for the women's tournament.

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