U.S. Soccer has been and continues to be a champion for women's soccer in the United States and on the global stage.
From our proactive efforts to grow and invest in women's soccer at every level in the U.S., to advocating for the improvement and increased support of the women's game worldwide, U.S. Soccer is active, committed and passionate in its support today and will be into the long-term future.
In recent years, we have increased our investment in the USWNT program and worked in close partnership with the players to ensure they have everything they need to perform at the highest level. We have added additional technical and high-performance staff focused only on the USWNT, provided additional charter flights to improve travel, and created two elite women's international tournaments to provide high-level competition in the United States, among other efforts to support the team. We also continue to expand our investment in female player development programs, including our eight Youth National Team programs and the Girl's Development Academy.
In addition, U.S. Soccer believes that all female athletes deserve fair and equitable pay, and we strive to meet this core value at all times.
Specifically, in April of 2017, we agreed to a fair and equitable collective bargaining agreement with the Women's National Team, which included a contract structure that the players specifically requested to provide them with a guaranteed salary and benefits. At no point since that time have players raised concerns about the CBA itself, and we continue to work with them in good faith. U.S. Soccer has partnered with the USWNT in a sincere effort to listen, provide the very best resources possible to the team and its staff, and advance the women's game on the field and in the marketplace.
We were therefore surprised by the complaint filed last week by the U.S. Women's National Team.
As we continue to review the lawsuit, we thought it was imperative to reach out to team leaders to better understand their thoughts and concerns. While we believe the current agreement is fair and equitable, we are committed to working with our USWNT players and understanding specifically where they believe improvement is needed.
To that end, on Wednesday I spoke with some of the veteran players to better understand their thoughts and concerns. Our initial conversation was open, cordial and professional, and we will continue to work to resolve this matter.
We are looking forward to additional meetings with the players in the near future so we may learn more about their objectives while they, in turn, can hear from us. Our mutual goal is a dialogue that will serve the best interests of the USWNT and U.S.Soccer, so that our collective focus is where it should be - winning the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup at a time when our team and soccer in the U.S. has so much to gain and celebrate.
I want to assure everyone in our soccer family that U.S. Soccer and its Women's National Team players remain partners with shared goals and aspirations. For that reason, we are very optimistic as to what is possible, and our commitment to reaching a common ground is absolute.
At the same time, we have every confidence that our USWNT players will be relentless in their pursuit of winning the Women's World Cup this summer in France.
As we wait to hear back from the USWNT about a preferred time to meet, U.S. Soccer remains fully committed to women's soccer at every level. We will work tirelessly to maintain the USWNT's position as the world leader in women's soccer and provide this team with everything it needs to compete and win a world championship this summer.