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Biden backs women's soccer team after lawsuit setback

(Reuters) - Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Saturday voiced his support for the U.S. women’s soccer team, a day after it suffered a setback in its gender discrimination lawsuit against the United States Soccer Federation.

FILE PHOTO: Democratic U.S. presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during the 11th Democratic candidates debate of the 2020 U.S. presidential campaign, held in CNN's Washington studios without an audience because of the global coronavirus pandemic, in Washington, U.S., March 15, 2020. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo

The team’s claims for equal pay were dismissed by a court on Friday, handing a victory to U.S. Soccer.

“Don’t give up this fight. This is not over yet,” Biden wrote in a tweet to the team.

“Equal pay, now. Or else when I’m president, you can go elsewhere for World Cup funding,” Biden added to the federation.

The former vice president is looking to unseat incumbent Republican Donald Trump in November’s U.S. presidential election.

The World Cup-winning team’s long-running feud with U.S. Soccer has been a very public and bitter battle and the players had been seeking $66 million in damages under the Equal Pay Act.

On Friday, Judge R. Gary Klausner of the United States District Court for the Central District of California threw out the players’ claims that they were under paid in comparison with the men’s national team.

The court allowed complaints of unfair medical, travel and training to proceed to trial, which is scheduled to begin June 16.

“The WNT (Women’s National Team) has been paid more on both a cumulative and an average per-game basis than the MNT (Men’s National Team) over the class period,” the court said in its summary judgment.

U.S. Soccer on Friday said it wanted to work with the team to “chart a positive path forward to grow the game both here at home and around the world.”

The players have said they plan to appeal the court’s decision.

Billie Jean King, who famously battled for equal pay in tennis, also offered words of encouragement to the team on Saturday.

“This is a setback, but it is not the end of the fight,” she wrote on Twitter.

“The pursuit of equality is a marathon not a sprint, and this lawsuit has generated a meaningful conversation about the treatment of women in sports,” she said.

“One ruling does not diminish its impact.”

Last month U.S. Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro resigned over language used in a court filing suggesting women possess less ability than men when it comes to soccer.

The language prompted an on-field protest by players, who wore their warmup jerseys inside out to obscure the U.S. Soccer logo prior to a game, and a critical response from several of the team’s commercial sponsors.

Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles; Editing by Toby Davis