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Billie Jean King, Mia Hamm Support U.S. Women’s Hockey Team During Boycott Over Wage Dispute

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Members of the U.S. women’s national hockey team said on Wednesday that they will not compete at the IIHF World Championships at the end of March unless they receive fair wages and support from USA Hockey.

“We are asking for a living wage and for USA Hockey to fully support its programs for women and girls and stop treating us like an afterthought. We have represented our country with dignity and deserve to be treated with fairness and respect,” captain Meghan Duggan told ESPNW of her team (they have won gold in six of the past eight world championships).

Team USA is set to host the games in Plymouth, Michigan, beginning March 31, but players say they will not report to training camp next week. Team members say that they receive financial support from USA Hockey only in the months leading up to the Olympics and have been snubbed on costs for housing, travel and meals. Neither USA Hockey nor the players would reveal details of the wages in dispute or how the men’s team is compensated, reports the Chicago Tribune.

Forward Hilary Knight told ESPN, “We are fortunate to have strong pioneers who have changed the landscape of their sport. Figures such as Billie Jean King or teams like U.S. women’s soccer have built a foundation not only for hope, but for action.”

And many of those leaders, including Billie Jean King and Mia Hamm, have taken to social media to voice their support for the hockey team.

“US Women’s Hockey team is taking a stand for equality. Being a world class athlete should not be treated as a part time job,” writes Billie Jean King on Twitter.

“We are with you!! How can we all help?” says Abby Wambach.

“Incredible courage on display by these brave women. They stand and fight for all of us. Thank you!” says Mia Hamm on Twitter.

“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,” said Dave Ogrean, executive director of USA Hockey, in a statement to ESPN. “We have communicated that increased level of support to the players’ representatives and look forward to continuing our discussions.

“The support USA Hockey is implementing in order to prepare the Women’s National Team for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games includes a six-month training camp, additional 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. The sum is in addition to a housing allowance, travel allowances, meal expenses, medical and disability insurance and the infrastructure that includes elite-level support staff to train and prepare the players.”

But Team USA responded with a statement saying that those claims were “misleading.”

“USA Hockey has coupled their contributions with payments made by the U.S. Olympic Committee, which pays gold-medal-winning athletes more than $60,000,” Team USA said in a statement to the Chicago Tribune. “Further, it covers only the Olympic period and does not offer anything for each of the other three years during which a world championship is played. Lastly, it does nothing to address the marketing and training support that is not on par with what it provides to the men’s and boys teams.”