US Soccer appears to change stance on USWNT's 'skill' in briefing

The United States Soccer Federation appeared to change its stance on its language in its court filing about the skill of male and female players.

U.S. Soccer lawyers toned down language about players' skill and responsibility, ESPN reported Tuesday, citing a March 16 federal court filing. U.S. Soccer and members of the women’s team also submitted filings stating their intentions to move to a trial phase in May.

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"The parties have significantly narrowed the issues to be tried by way of discovery and briefing," filings from the women's team's lawyers read. "USSF no longer disputes that the jobs of the WNT and MNT players require equal skill, effort and responsibility -- and therefore have necessarily conceded that they perform equal work."

U.S. Soccer argued that the female players were not paid less than men's national team players in total or on a per-game basis, and did not work in the same establishment as men's players.

"The undisputed facts show that the WNT and MNT are both geographically and operationally distinct," U.S. Soccer said, according to ESPN. "The WNT and MNT play in different venues in different cities (and often different countries), and participate in separate competitions against completely different pools of opponents. In addition, the day-to-day functions and operations of the team are overseen by separate coaching staff, technical and medical staff, and Team Administrators."

Back on March 9, there was a court filing that male players have "more responsibility" and require "a higher level of skill" than female players.

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"A reasonable juror could conclude that the job MNT player requires a materially different skill and more responsibility than Plaintiff's job does, while also taking place under materially different working conditions," the original filing stated.

Since then, Carlos Cordeiro resigned as president of U.S. Soccer on March 12. Following his resignation, the U.S. Soccer Federation named Cindy Parlow Cone as its new president, and it hired new legal representation.

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The women's squad is asking for roughly $67 million in back pay under the Equal Pay Act. The team also filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against U.S. Soccer in March 2019.