LOS ANGELES: The United States women’s national team have marked International Women’s Day by launching legal action against the US Soccer Federation for paying them less than the men and refusing them equal training, travel and playing conditions.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Los Angeles three years after several players filed a similar complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Kicking off in June . . . the Women's World Cup in France

US co-captain Carli Lloyd said: “In light of our team’s unparalleled success on the field, it’s a shame that we still are fighting for treatment that reflects our achievements and contributions to the sport.”

The players, who includes other stars such as Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan, say they have been consistently paid less money than their male counterparts even though their performances have been superior.

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Rapinoe said: “We feel a responsibility not only to stand up for what we know we deserve as athletes, but also for what we know is right – on behalf of our teammates, future teammates, fellow women athletes, and women all around the world.”

Interestingly, the lawsuit is supported by a fellow USSF employee in team coach Jill Ellis.

She said: “(I) recognise moments where we have to continue to push the envelope. It’s not hard to navigate because I’m in that world and my players know I support them.”

The US, favourites to retain their crown at the World Cup in France in June, have won the World Cup three titles as well as landing four Olympic gold medals.

Their World Cup victory in 2015 was the most-viewed soccer game in American TV history with an audience of 23m

The US team’s legal action may present a challenge to the regulations of world federation FIFA whose statutes insist that all disputes must be settled within the game and not through civil legal actions.