The U.S. women’s hockey team announced on Twitter Wednesday morning that it will not participate in the 2017 IIHF Women’s World Championships.
The team is protesting inequitable treatment by USA Hockey.
Megan Bozek and other Team USA members put out a statement on Twitter saying that the players “have asked for equitable support in the areas of financial compensation, youth team development, equipment, travel expenses, hotel accommodations, meals, staffing, transportation, marketing and publicity.”
— Megan Bozek (@meganebozek) March 15, 2017
The Women’s World Championship is scheduled to begin in Plymouth, Mich., on March 31. The U.S women have been the most successful of the USA hockey programs, winning silver medals in the 2010 and 2014 Olympics and seven of the last nine gold medals at the IIHF world championships.
Getzville native Emily Pfalzer won two gold medals with Team USA at the IIHF World Championships (2015 and 2016), two golds at the Four Nations Cup (2015, 2016) and one silver at Four Nations (2014).
This follows the U.S. women’s national soccer team, which has battled with the U.S. Soccer Federation about wages and playing conditions.
Wednesday afternoon, USA Hockey released its response.
"USA Hockey understands the challenges elite athletes face in order to pursue their dreams of participating in international competition, including the Olympics," the press release said. "USA Hockey, along with the United States Olympic Committee, provides the Women’s National Team players financial support, as well as training opportunities, camps, and strength and conditioning programs, to help these athletes and give them the best chance to succeed."
“We acknowledge the players’ concerns and have proactively increased our level of direct support to the Women’s National Team as we prepare for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games,” Dave Ogrean, executive director of USA Hockey, said in a statement. “We have communicated that increased level of support to the players’ representatives and look forward to continuing our discussions.”
USA Hockey said it was providing a six-month training camp for the Women's National Team as part of the run-up to the 2018 Olympics. In addition, the organization said it had "support stipends and incentives for medals that could result in each player receiving nearly $85,000 in cash over the Olympic training and performance period." That, USA Hockey points out, is in addition to a housing allowance, travel allowances, meal expenses, and medical and disability insurance.
"In our role as the national governing body, USA Hockey trains and selects teams for international competition," said Jim Smith, president of USA Hockey in the organization's release. "USA Hockey’s role is not to employ athletes and we will not do so. USA Hockey will continue to provide world-leading support for our athletes."