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Former South African soccer star Marc Batchelor fatally shot near his home, police say

Westlake Legal Group Marc-Batchelor-Getty Former South African soccer star Marc Batchelor fatally shot near his home, police say Ryan Gaydos fox-news/world/world-regions/africa fox-news/world fox-news/sports/soccer fox news fnc/sports fnc article 4114928f-6fe4-58eb-8954-dc75dab8539b

Former South African soccer star Marc Batchelor was fatally shot near his home in Johannesburg, police said Tuesday.

Batchelor, a striker who played for the Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates and Mamelodi Sundowns in South Africa’s Premier Soccer League, was shot several times, South Africa police spokesman Col. Lungelo Dlamini told South African Broadcasting Corporation.

USWNT’S ASHLYN HARRIS CALLS FORMER TEAMMATE JAELENE HINKLE ‘HOMOPHOBIC’ AFTER OLD INTERVIEW RESURFACES

“He was about to drive into his premises. The suspects shot several times at him,” he said. “He died inside the car and they drove away without taking anything.”

Police said they were still identifying a motive behind the shooting and no suspects have been identified.

BRANDI CHASTAIN’S ICONIC WOMEN’S WORLD CUP MOMENT IMMORTALIZED WITH STATUE OUTSIDE ROSE BOWL

Kaizer Chiefs chairman Kaizer Motaung released a statement on Batchelor’s death.

“I am shocked to learn about the passing of former Kaizer Chiefs player Marc Batchelor,” Motaung said. “On behalf of Kaizer Chiefs, I wish to express my deepest heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family, friends and the football fraternity. May his soul rest in eternal peace.”

Orlando Pirates chairman Irvin Khoza recalled Batchelor as a “hero” for his role in the CAF Champions League final in 1995 when the club defeated Asec Mimosas.

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After he retired, Batchelor notably testified about Oscar Pistorius during the Paralympian’s murder trial in 2014. He told the court at the time Pistorius threatened to break his legs because he believed Batchelor slept with his then-girlfriend Samantha Taylor, according to Metro.

Westlake Legal Group Marc-Batchelor-Getty Former South African soccer star Marc Batchelor fatally shot near his home, police say Ryan Gaydos fox-news/world/world-regions/africa fox-news/world fox-news/sports/soccer fox news fnc/sports fnc article 4114928f-6fe4-58eb-8954-dc75dab8539b   Westlake Legal Group Marc-Batchelor-Getty Former South African soccer star Marc Batchelor fatally shot near his home, police say Ryan Gaydos fox-news/world/world-regions/africa fox-news/world fox-news/sports/soccer fox news fnc/sports fnc article 4114928f-6fe4-58eb-8954-dc75dab8539b

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Rapinoe says Trump’s message ‘excludes people that look like me’ and ‘a lot of people in his base’

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6057533013001_6057531336001-vs Rapinoe says Trump's message 'excludes people that look like me' and 'a lot of people in his base' fox-news/sports/soccer fox-news/person/megan-rapinoe fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/politics fnc article Andrew O'Reilly 3e6e7a17-1789-5855-a2e7-af47eb9d0da8

Soccer star Megan Rapinoe continued her criticism of President Trump on Sunday, saying the president’s message is dividing Americans.

Fresh off the U.S. women’s national team’s victory in the World Cup last weekend, Rapinoe made an appearance on NBC’s “Meet The Press” where she said Trump’s message excluded people “that look like me and are me.”

“I think Trump’s message excludes people that look like me and are me, of course, but it excludes a lot of people in his base, as well,” Rapinoe said. “And I think that he’s trying to divide so he can conquer and not unite so we can all conquer.”

THESE WOMEN’S WORLD CUP CHAMPIONS GIVE ‘GLORY TO GOD’

Rapinoe, who took heat from Trump for saying she would decline an invite to White House to celebrate the USWNT’s victory, expanded on her stance when questioned by NBC’s Chuck Todd about how she would explain her choice to a Trump supporter.

“I’d try to share our message,” she said. “Do you think all people are treated equal? Do you believe that equal pay should be mandated? Do you believe that everyone should have health care? Do you believe we should treat everyone with the respect? Those are the basics we are talking about.”

Rapinoe, who won the World Cup’s Golden Boot and led the U.S. to its victory over the Netherlands, has been an outspoken advocate for equal pay.

“There’s been so much contention in these last years. I’ve been a victim of that, I’ve been a perpetrator of that,” Rapinoe said during a parade last week in New York. “With our fight with the federation, sorry for some of the things I said – not all of the things. But it’s time to come together.”

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She continued: “This conversation is at the next step. We have to collaborate. It takes everybody. This is my charge to everyone. Do what you can. Do what you have to do. Step outside yourself. Be more. Be better. Be bigger than you ever been before. If this team is any representation of what you can be when you do that, please take it as an example.”

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6057533013001_6057531336001-vs Rapinoe says Trump's message 'excludes people that look like me' and 'a lot of people in his base' fox-news/sports/soccer fox-news/person/megan-rapinoe fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/politics fnc article Andrew O'Reilly 3e6e7a17-1789-5855-a2e7-af47eb9d0da8   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6057533013001_6057531336001-vs Rapinoe says Trump's message 'excludes people that look like me' and 'a lot of people in his base' fox-news/sports/soccer fox-news/person/megan-rapinoe fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/politics fnc article Andrew O'Reilly 3e6e7a17-1789-5855-a2e7-af47eb9d0da8

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J. Lo gives Carli Lloyd a lap dance onstage to celebrate World Cup win

Carli Lloyd of the U.S. Women’s World Cup soccer champions received a special gift Friday night from J. Lo.

Jennifer Lopez pulled Lloyd from the audience to the stage at Madison Square Garden in New York City and worked her sensual moves on the soccer star in a lap dance.

THESE WOMEN’S WORLD CUP CHAMPIONS GIVE ‘GLORY TO GOD’

After Lopez told the crowd that Lloyd was in attendance, her fiance Alex Rodriguez escorted Lloyd to security guards who walked her to the stage, where she sat on a chair shaped like a stiletto shoe.

Lopez congratulated Lloyd for her team’s win and then told the athlete: “Got a little present for you.”

“Actually Carli, I got two presents for you,” the pop star said. “Girls, will you take care of Carli and give her a little birthday present?”

Lopez left the stage and two of her female backup dancers gyrated on Lloyd as the 2009 hit “Birthday Sex” by R&B singer Jeremih played in the background. Lloyd’s 37th birthday is Tuesday.

Lopez returned to the stage, and she and her female dancers moved sensually in front of Lloyd, who was cheered on by the audience.

“Carli, you doing OK?” Lopez asked, then sitting on Lloyd’s lap as she sang a slowed-down version of “If You Had My Love,” her debut single released in 1999.

Westlake Legal Group AP19194220685953 J. Lo gives Carli Lloyd a lap dance onstage to celebrate World Cup win fox-news/sports/soccer fox-news/person/jennifer-lopez fox-news/person/carli-lloyd fox-news/newsedge/sports/womens-world-cup fox-news/entertainment fnc/entertainment fnc e0d67596-1684-5ebe-9f8c-b60b59f003a2 Brie Stimson Associated Press article

Soccer player Carli Lloyd, left, is seen in Boulogne-Billancourt, Dec. 8, 2018, and Jennifer Lopez is seen at the Brooklyn Museum in New York City, June 3, 2019. (Associated Press)

The U.S. women’s national soccer team has been on a celebratory run since beating the Netherlands to capture a record fourth Women’s World Cup title earlier this week. On Wednesday, the team won trophies at the ESPYS in Los Angeles and was honored with a ticker tape parade in New York City.

Lloyd wasn’t the only special guest at the concert: Lopez’s 11-year-old daughter, Emme Maribel Muñiz, joined her onstage to sing a duet, which earned a standing ovation from the audience.

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Lopez’s “It’s My Party” Tour will return to Madison Square Garden on Saturday night.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Westlake Legal Group AP19194220685953 J. Lo gives Carli Lloyd a lap dance onstage to celebrate World Cup win fox-news/sports/soccer fox-news/person/jennifer-lopez fox-news/person/carli-lloyd fox-news/newsedge/sports/womens-world-cup fox-news/entertainment fnc/entertainment fnc e0d67596-1684-5ebe-9f8c-b60b59f003a2 Brie Stimson Associated Press article   Westlake Legal Group AP19194220685953 J. Lo gives Carli Lloyd a lap dance onstage to celebrate World Cup win fox-news/sports/soccer fox-news/person/jennifer-lopez fox-news/person/carli-lloyd fox-news/newsedge/sports/womens-world-cup fox-news/entertainment fnc/entertainment fnc e0d67596-1684-5ebe-9f8c-b60b59f003a2 Brie Stimson Associated Press article

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Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan treated to fast-food staple on ‘Kimmel’ in White House jab

Westlake Legal Group SOC-Rapinoe-Morgan Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan treated to fast-food staple on 'Kimmel' in White House jab Ryan Gaydos fox-news/sports/soccer fox-news/person/megan-rapinoe fox-news/person/alex-morgan fox-news/entertainment/media fox news fnc/sports fnc article 002e575a-6959-5547-add2-5bd608193afc

U.S. women’s soccer stars Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan vowed they would not attend a White House ceremony celebrating the team should they win the World Cup.

Jimmy Kimmel poked fun at President Trump’s past celebrations during “Jimmy Kimmel Live” on Thursday. Trump was known for giving winning teams fast food during White House ceremonies, so in turn, Kimmel presented Rapinoe and Morgan a fast-food staple.

WORLD CUP CHAMP ALLIE LONG’S LA HOTEL ROOM BURGLARIZED, THIEF STEALS KEY TO NYC

“I, also, don’t want to cheat you out of the experience of visiting the White House,” Kimmel told Rapinoe and Morgan while discussing Trump’s invitation. “So we prepared something special for you.”

Curtains to the players’ right then revealed 5,000 chicken nuggets with dozens of dipping sauces.

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“If you really are the champions we know you are, the three of us will eat all of these before the night is done,” Kimmel said.

Westlake Legal Group SOC-Rapinoe-Morgan Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan treated to fast-food staple on 'Kimmel' in White House jab Ryan Gaydos fox-news/sports/soccer fox-news/person/megan-rapinoe fox-news/person/alex-morgan fox-news/entertainment/media fox news fnc/sports fnc article 002e575a-6959-5547-add2-5bd608193afc   Westlake Legal Group SOC-Rapinoe-Morgan Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan treated to fast-food staple on 'Kimmel' in White House jab Ryan Gaydos fox-news/sports/soccer fox-news/person/megan-rapinoe fox-news/person/alex-morgan fox-news/entertainment/media fox news fnc/sports fnc article 002e575a-6959-5547-add2-5bd608193afc

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Former US women’s soccer star Abby Wambach says World Cup win gives team leverage in equal pay fight

Westlake Legal Group abby-wambach-Getty Former US women's soccer star Abby Wambach says World Cup win gives team leverage in equal pay fight Ryan Gaydos fox-news/sports/soccer/the-world-cup fox-news/sports/soccer fox-news/newsedge/sports/womens-world-cup fox news fnc/sports fnc article a70b5d01-7286-572d-a4ac-be49d93f48bf

Former U.S. women’s soccer star Abby Wambach said Wednesday the team winning the World Cup over the Netherlands gives them leverage in their fight over equal pay with the U.S. Soccer Federation.

Wambach appeared on CBS Sports HQ and talked about the lawsuit filed by the U.S. women’s national team against its federation, alleging gender discrimination.

MEGAN RAPINOE LEADS US WOMEN’S SOCCER TEAM IN WORLD CUP CELEBRATION

“Well, I think that if there was a case of public opinion, of course, they’d have won it,” Wambach said. “I think that winning the World Cup gives them a leveraging point that will obviously tip in their favor. But at the end of the day, it’s now in the hands of FIFA and the president Carlos Cordeiro of U.S. Soccer to make these things happen and make these women whole.”

Wambach, who won the World Cup in 2015, added: “They’ve just done, not only tremendous work to win this World Cup, but they did it in a fashion that we all can be proud of. Though US Soccer made (an) early investment on this team, you see the byproduct of that now. You have to keep investing into the program in order for it to stay successful. The women did their job, now it is US Soccer’s [turn] to do theirs.”

THESE WOMEN’S WORLD CUP CHAMPIONS GIVE ‘GLORY TO GOD’

Megan Rapinoe took the fight to the forefront on Wednesday during the team’s ticker-tape parade in New York City.

“There’s been so much contention in these last years. I’ve been a victim of that, I’ve been a perpetrator of that,” Rapinoe said. “With our fight with the federation, sorry for some of the things I said – not all of the things. But it’s time to come together.”

She continued: “This conversation is at the next step. We have to collaborate. It takes everybody. This is my charge to everyone. Do what you can. Do what you have to do. Step outside yourself. Be more. Be better. Be bigger than you ever been before. If this team is any representation of what you can be when you do that, please take it as an example.”

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Rapinoe’s speech came as fans in the crowd were chanting “equal pay” at the federation’s president Cordeiro.

Westlake Legal Group abby-wambach-Getty Former US women's soccer star Abby Wambach says World Cup win gives team leverage in equal pay fight Ryan Gaydos fox-news/sports/soccer/the-world-cup fox-news/sports/soccer fox-news/newsedge/sports/womens-world-cup fox news fnc/sports fnc article a70b5d01-7286-572d-a4ac-be49d93f48bf   Westlake Legal Group abby-wambach-Getty Former US women's soccer star Abby Wambach says World Cup win gives team leverage in equal pay fight Ryan Gaydos fox-news/sports/soccer/the-world-cup fox-news/sports/soccer fox-news/newsedge/sports/womens-world-cup fox news fnc/sports fnc article a70b5d01-7286-572d-a4ac-be49d93f48bf

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Christian views may have kept star player off US women’s soccer team, some say

As the U.S. Women’s World Cup champions continue to celebrate their recent triumph, some observers are wondering whether a top-tier American player was left off the team because of her religious views.

Jaelene Hinkle, 26, a native of Colorado who played college soccer at Texas Tech, is a defender for the North Carolina Courage of the National Women’s Soccer League.

In 2018, Hinkle helped her team win the NWSL championship and previously helped it win a title in 2016 when it was known as the Western New York Flash.

MEGAN RAPINOE POSTERS VANDALIZED WITH HATEFUL MESSAGES AT NYC SUBWAY STATION, POLICE SAY

But in 2015, Hinkle had objected publicly to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling that legalized same-sex marriage.

“I believe with every fiber in my body that what was written 2,000 years ago in the Bible is undoubtedly true,” Hinkle wrote on Instagram at the time. “This world may change, but Christ and His Word NEVER will.”

Jesus didn’t come to save those who already believed in Him. He came so that the lost, rejected, and abandoned men and women would find Him and believe. I believe with every fiber in my body that what was written 2,000 years ago in the Bible is undoubtedly true. It’s not a fictional book. It’s not a pick and choose what you want to believe. You either believe it, or you don’t. This world may change, but Christ and His Word NEVER will. My heart is that as Christians we don’t begin to throw a tantrum over what has been brought into law today, but we become that much more loving. That through our love, the lost, rejected, and abandoned find Christ. The rainbow was a convent made between God and all his creation that never again would the world be flooded as it was when He destroyed the world during Noah’s time. It’s a constant reminder that no matter how corrupt this world becomes, He will never leave us or forsake us. Thank you Lord for your amazing grace, even during times of trial and confusion. Love won over 2,000 years ago when the greatest sacrifice of all time was made for ALL mankind. ❤️💜💛💚💙

A post shared by Jaelene Hinkle (@jaelenehinkle) on Jun 26, 2015 at 2:04pm PDT

Then in 2017, Hinkle drew criticism when she declined to play in two matches for the U.S. women’s national team, reportedly because she didn’t want to wear special team jerseys recognizing Gay Pride Month.

‘It wasn’t my job’

She later told the Christian Broadcasting Network’s “The 700 Club” that she opposed the jerseys for religious reasons.

“I just felt so convicted in my spirit that it wasn’t my job to wear this jersey,” Hinkle told the program. “I gave myself three days to just seek and pray and determine what [God] was asking me to do in this situation.”

“I just felt so convicted in my spirit that it wasn’t my job to wear this jersey. I gave myself three days to just seek and pray and determine what [God] was asking me to do in this situation.”

— Jaelene Hinkle, pro soccer player

THESE WOMEN’S WORLD CUP CHAMPIONS GIVE ‘GLORY TO GOD’

Shortly after the interview aired, Hinkle was loudly booed in liberal Portland, Ore., when her North Carolina Courage team played against the Portland Thorns, the Irish Times reported.

Contrast with Rapinoe

Later, Hinkle was dropped from the U.S. national team for reasons solely related to soccer, team officials claimed, according to the newspaper. But the report noted that Hinkle’s public persona contrasts sharply with that of Team USA captain Megan Rapinoe, who also plays in the NWSL.

While Hinkle stands by her religious beliefs, the Times noted, Rapinoe has drawn public attention for such gestures as supporting former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s national anthem protests and for posing nude with her girlfriend, WNBA basketball player Sue Bird.

But Erick Erickson, a conservative commentator, and John Stonestreet, president of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview in Colorado Springs, Colo., doubt that Hinkle was cut solely for soccer reasons, the Washington Times reported. They believe Hinkle was dropped because of her religious views.

Westlake Legal Group soccer-ball Christian views may have kept star player off US women’s soccer team, some say fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/north-carolina fox-news/us/religion/christianity fox-news/us/religion fox-news/sports/soccer fox-news/newsedge/sports/womens-world-cup fox-news/faith-values fox news fnc/sports fnc Dom Calicchio article 5ec789a6-94ca-510d-a2c9-7226b7e013ae

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“If we were talking about just any player, it wouldn’t be really clear,” Stonestreet told the newspaper. “But just because of her abilities – Jaelene Hinkle is a heck of a player – it makes it that much more suspect.”

“If we were talking about just any player, it wouldn’t be really clear. But just because of her abilities – Jaelene Hinkle is a heck of a player – it makes it that much more suspect.”

— John Stonestreet, president, Colson Center for Christian Worldview in Colorado Springs, Colo.

SB Nation’s Kim McCauley asserted that Hinkle was likely invited to try out for the national team only to prevent a lawsuit, the Christian Post reported.

But Hinkle herself doesn’t seem too rattled by the decision to be left off the U.S. roster. As she told “The 700 Club”: “If I never get another national team call-up again then that’s just a part of [God’s] plan, and that’s OK.”

Hinkle also has a Biblical passage posted on her Twitter page: “If you live for people’s acceptance, you’ll die from their rejection.”

Westlake Legal Group soccer-ball Christian views may have kept star player off US women’s soccer team, some say fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/north-carolina fox-news/us/religion/christianity fox-news/us/religion fox-news/sports/soccer fox-news/newsedge/sports/womens-world-cup fox-news/faith-values fox news fnc/sports fnc Dom Calicchio article 5ec789a6-94ca-510d-a2c9-7226b7e013ae   Westlake Legal Group soccer-ball Christian views may have kept star player off US women’s soccer team, some say fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/north-carolina fox-news/us/religion/christianity fox-news/us/religion fox-news/sports/soccer fox-news/newsedge/sports/womens-world-cup fox-news/faith-values fox news fnc/sports fnc Dom Calicchio article 5ec789a6-94ca-510d-a2c9-7226b7e013ae

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Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge has Pomeranian dog returned after home burglarized

Westlake Legal Group daniel-sturridge-2-Getty Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge has Pomeranian dog returned after home burglarized Ryan Gaydos fox-news/us/crime fox-news/sports/soccer fox news fnc/sports fnc f70f90a2-ecc4-534f-aded-28e08b243116 article

English Premier League striker Daniel Sturridge received some good news Wednesday – someone found his dog.

Sturridge, who played with Liverpool FC last season, had his small Pomeranian returned to him a day after he posted a video on Instagram showing his Los Angeles home burglarized.

LIVERPOOL STRIKER DANIEL STURRIDGE PLEADS FOR DOG’S RETURN AFTER HOME RANSACKED: ‘I’LL PAY ANYTHING’

In the process of the burglary, Sturridge said someone had stolen his dog. He posted a video showing his home destroyed and posted several pictures of his missing dog.

“I want my dog back, and I’ll pay whatever. It don’t matter, it don’t matter the cost,” he said in a heart-wrenching video.

KINSEY WOLANSKI, WHO PULLED OFF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE STUNT, SAYS SHE AND BOYFRIEND WERE ARRESTED AT COPA AMERICA

It wasn’t clear who returned his dog, but police said the animal was found early Wednesday. Sturridge told police he doesn’t think the person who returned the dog was involved in the burglary, according to KABC-TV.

Los Angeles police officials said the department received a call at around 1:30 a.m. Tuesday about a burglary, according to the station. Police said other items were stolen from the house other than the dog.

No one was in the home when the burglary occurred. Sturridge posted surveillance footage of three people going into the home. He wrote in the caption of one of the videos that three men stole his dog and four bags.

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Sturridge played in 18 matches for Liverpool last season and scored two goals. He also played in seven Champions League matches. Liverpool won the Champions League this season.

Westlake Legal Group daniel-sturridge-2-Getty Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge has Pomeranian dog returned after home burglarized Ryan Gaydos fox-news/us/crime fox-news/sports/soccer fox news fnc/sports fnc f70f90a2-ecc4-534f-aded-28e08b243116 article   Westlake Legal Group daniel-sturridge-2-Getty Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge has Pomeranian dog returned after home burglarized Ryan Gaydos fox-news/us/crime fox-news/sports/soccer fox news fnc/sports fnc f70f90a2-ecc4-534f-aded-28e08b243116 article

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Women’s league seeks more fans, sponsors after US title

Megan Rapinoe, the lavender-haired icon of women’s soccer, maintains that green is the key to her sport’s sustainability.

“For me, it’s about the Benjis,” she said.

Women’s soccer engages the U.S. every four years, then disappears for most fans like a comet leaving the solar system. In the wake of the Americans’ record-setting fourth World Cup title Sunday, the hard part remains: the weekly work of boosting the National Women’s Soccer League, where average attendance remains at a minor league level.

Fans have not handed over a sufficient supply of $100 bills displaying Benjamin Franklin’s portrait, and sponsors and broadcasters have not made enough of the six-, seven- and eight-figure agreements needed for the NWSL to rise to the level of men’s Major League Soccer.

“On the men’s side in MLS, they have owners with extremely deep pockets,” defender Crystal Dunn said. “If the women’s game is going to grow, it’s going to come down to us not kind of penny-pinching on things and really putting a lot of resources in.”

The Women’s United Soccer Association, launched as the first fully professional women’s league, folded in 2003 after just three seasons. Women’s Professional Soccer started play in 2009 and also lasted only three seasons.

NWSL took the field in 2013 and has a management contract with the U.S. Soccer Federation, which has listed nearly $8.5 million as expenses attributable to the league. The USSF pays the salaries of 22 allocated national team players, providing the NWSL a subsidy and the ability to market the top American players.

NWSL launched in 2013 with eight teams, increased to nine the following season and 10 in 2016, then went back to nine in 2018 — of which four share owners with MLS.

“When the league started, no one expected the league to survive seven seasons,” Utah Royals coach Laura Harvey said. “I think the biggest battle has already been overcome a little bit in the U.S. that a lot of women’s soccer faces across the world, is that people are willing to pay a ticket price to watch a game.”

MLS, which started with 10 teams in 1996, expanded, contracted and now has grown to 24 teams this season, with plans to expand to 30. MLS average attendance has risen from the 14,000 range at the turn of the century to about 22,000; the NWSL is between 5,000 to 6,000.

“The MLS, it’s well documented, had its share of growing pains when it was still a toddler and a youth, if you will. So. I don’t think any of us involved in the NWSL thought this was going to be an easy journey in establishing a viable women’s league,” said Mike Golub, president of business for MLS’s Portland Timbers and the NWSL’s Thorns, who lead the league with an 18,000-plus attendance average.

Just a handful of NWSL games were televised nationally from 2013-16 but the league announced a deal with A+E Networks ahead of the 2017 season in which the company would take an equity stake and broadcast a game of the week on Lifetime. But A+E cut short the deal last winter, a season early, and it took NWSL until last week to announce an agreement for ESPN to televise 14 games during the season’s second half.

NWSL’s staff is small. The league had three to five full-time employees when it started and now has 13, including five in its media office. The goal is to grow teams and staff.

“Not expansion just to expand,” said Amanda Duffy, who is in her third season running the NWSL office and in her first year as league president. “It’s expansion to get right with the right ownership, with the right facilities, the right market, the right infrastructure and the right ability to connect with the community and resonating in a market. And if we get that right, that will also at the same time broaden our footprint, broaden the relevancy.”

NWSL announced a sponsorship agreement Sunday with Anheuser Busch Cos. Inc.’s Budweiser, a deal negotiated by MLS’s marketing wing Soccer United Marketing.

“We identified the fact that there is a national and global attention one month out of every 48 months, and if we really, truly want to act like supporters, if we really, truly want to grow the sport, it’s got to be day in, day out, I mean during the actual season,” said Monica Rustgi, Budweiser’s vice president of marketing. “It’s also to use our scale and reach to get more people into the fold and more sponsors into the fold.”

Budweiser joined a relatively small group of NWSL national sponsors that includes Nike, Lifetime, Spectrum Brands Holdings Inc.’s Cutter insect repellant and Thorne Research Inc., which manufactures nutritional supplements.

“I think for national sponsorships, that’s a process that takes time,” Duffy said. “I think right now the larger and broader opportunities from a sponsorship perspective are going to be more at a local level, where there’s an immediate connection with the NWSL players and the brand at a local scale in those markets.”

Houston, Orlando, Portland and Utah have shared owners with the MLS teams in their cities, and defending champion North Carolina has the same owner as the local team in the second-tier United Soccer League Championship. A joint ownership model has been a success in Europe. Lyon has won four straight European Women’s Champions League titles, and Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Chelsea reached the semifinals.

“Europe is doing a very good job in general,” said Ricardo Fort, vice president of global sponsorships at The Coca-Cola Co. “A lot of leagues have established in the last couple of years. There is investment from the clubs and sponsors are following the best.”

Boosted by players developed by the clubs, seven European nations reached the Women’s World Cup quarterfinals. The economies of scale help keep down costs.

“In our case there’s some real inherent advantages having one organization run both clubs,” Golub said. “We have a staff of 160 people, all of whom are charged with running both the Timbers and the Thorns. … Teams that don’t have more than one club don’t necessarily have that scale, those resources that expertise. We also have by virtue of our men a great facility that we can control, a great practice facility.”

The league’s listed minimum salary charge to a team’s salary cap budget this year is $16,538 and the maximum is $46,200, though many players earn far more. Midfielder Rose Lavelle, who scored the second goal in the World Cup final, said that while national team players have higher pay, some of her club teammates need to coach on the side to make ends meet.

“We need kind of sustainable income so that people can feel like this is their full-time job. I think right now, the reality of just women’s sports in general is that they can’t devote their whole life to what they love,” she said. “I just feel like the next step is that we need to make everyone feel like they are a professional athlete.”

Westlake Legal Group OLY-NWSL-tries Women's league seeks more fans, sponsors after US title fox-news/sports/soccer fnc/sports fnc e6e6678d-d4f9-5ac0-b44d-198a80cfa3f6 Associated Press article   Westlake Legal Group OLY-NWSL-tries Women's league seeks more fans, sponsors after US title fox-news/sports/soccer fnc/sports fnc e6e6678d-d4f9-5ac0-b44d-198a80cfa3f6 Associated Press article

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Rapinoe says US women’s soccer team would be ‘very happy to accept’ Schumer’s invite to Senate

The U.S. women’s soccer team’s star forward Megan Rapinoe told reporters Monday that the team would be “very happy to accept” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s invitation to come to Capitol Hill to celebrate their victory and discuss equal pay legislation.

“What the #USWNT did was extraordinary, and they deserve to be compensated fairly,” Schumer, D-N.Y., tweeted on Monday. “All women need to be compensated fairly. Period. And we ought to pay attention to this not just once every four years during the World Cup, but year-in and year-out.”

Earlier, Monday, during remarks on the Senate floor, Schumer invited the team to the Senate to celebrate the historic victory in the 2019 Women’s World Cup. He also called on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to bring legislation up for a vote that would ensure all women earn equal pay.

“And, while today we celebrate their victory, we also recognize that these women, these athletes, have challenges and they make us really think about the future of women’s sports,” Schumer said on Monday. “They make us grapple with the deep unfairness in how female athletes are treated, and paid, compared to their male counterparts.”

TRUMP, PUTTING ASIDE RAPINOE’S ATTACK, CONGRATULATES WOMEN’S SOCCER TEAM ON WORLD CUP WIN

Reacting to Schumer’s call for equal pay, Rapinoe said, “That’s great. I love that. Interested to see what McConnell does. Thank you, Chuck Schumer, for inviting us out. We are very happy to accept your invitation to come.”

McConnell did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.

On Sunday, President Trump unequivocally congratulated the United States women’s soccer team after its repeat World Cup win — putting aside, at least for the moment, the firestorm surrounding Rapinoe’s vow never to visit the White House.

Asked by reporters later in the day whether men and women World Cup soccer teams should make the same money — which Rapinoe has demanded — Trump responded, “I would like to see that, but you’ve also got to look at numbers… you have to look at who’s taking in what” and “see how they’re performing.”

“I don’t know what those numbers are,” Trump added. “And, you have to see year-round how are they all drawing — what is the attendance for women’s soccer outside of World Cup, but I would like to see it.”

Westlake Legal Group US-WST-cup Rapinoe says US women's soccer team would be 'very happy to accept' Schumer's invite to Senate Talia Kaplan fox-news/sports/soccer fox-news/politics/senate/democrats fox-news/person/megan-rapinoe fox-news/person/chuck-schumer fox news fnc/sports fnc article 44cde496-5089-5944-a4bf-f58658521c90

The U.S. women’s soccer team posing with the World Cup trophy after arriving at Newark Liberty International Airport on Monday.  (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Rapinoe, the pink-haired team captain who emerged with the Golden Ball as top player and the Golden Boot as top scorer, has been an outspoken opponent of what she’s described as systemic gender inequality in the United States. Rapinoe previously knelt during the national anthem prior to rules changes that barred the practice.

“I’m not going to the f—— White House,” Rapinoe said in a widely publicized magazine interview in June. “No f—— way will we be invited to the White House. [Trump] tries to avoid inviting a team that might decline. Or, like he did when the [Golden State] Warriors turned him down, he’ll claim they hadn’t been invited in the first place.”

Rapinoe has largely stood by her comments in recent weeks, except for the explicit language she used. On Saturday, Rapinoe said that she believed that “not many, if any” of her teammates would visit the White House if they won the final against the Netherlands.

MEGAN RAPINOE SAYS FIFA WORLD CUP PRIZE MONEY ‘NOT FAIR,’ WOMEN NOT AS ‘RESPECTED’ AS MEN

Rapinoe told reporters on Monday, “We’ve said publicly, I’ve said that I think most the team, if not everybody, I think everybody is with me. We don’t want to go to the White House, so I figure that’s why the invitation hasn’t come.”

Rapinoe’s teammate Alex Morgan weighed in on the invitation, telling reporters on Monday, “We have a lot to talk about within the team.”

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She added that “she is sure that anything” that the team could do to “raise our voice and use their platform for, we will do so.”

Fox News’ Courtney Crawford, Gregg Re, Chad Pergram and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6056758467001_6056761796001-vs Rapinoe says US women's soccer team would be 'very happy to accept' Schumer's invite to Senate Talia Kaplan fox-news/sports/soccer fox-news/politics/senate/democrats fox-news/person/megan-rapinoe fox-news/person/chuck-schumer fox news fnc/sports fnc article 44cde496-5089-5944-a4bf-f58658521c90   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6056758467001_6056761796001-vs Rapinoe says US women's soccer team would be 'very happy to accept' Schumer's invite to Senate Talia Kaplan fox-news/sports/soccer fox-news/politics/senate/democrats fox-news/person/megan-rapinoe fox-news/person/chuck-schumer fox news fnc/sports fnc article 44cde496-5089-5944-a4bf-f58658521c90

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‘Jerry Maguire’ agent says US women put federation in ‘a very difficult bargaining position’ amid equal pay fight

Westlake Legal Group US-Womens-Steinberg 'Jerry Maguire' agent says US women put federation in 'a very difficult bargaining position' amid equal pay fight fox-news/topic/fox-news-flash fox-news/sports/soccer fox-news/shows/outnumbered-overtime fox-news/politics/elections/campaigning fox-news/politics fox-news/person/kirsten-gillibrand fox-news/newsedge/sports/womens-world-cup fox news fnc/sports fnc Charles Creitz article 1508f3a7-26ca-544a-9970-bc411504bc25

Is it time to show them the money?

The U.S. women’s soccer team’s blockbuster performance in the World Cup puts the United States Soccer Federation in a tough spot amid criticism of the sport’s gender pay gap, according to super agent Leigh Steinberg.

The American team’s players are great ambassadors for both women and the sport itself, Steinberg told Harris Faulkner on “Outnumbered Overtime,” before discussing potential financial implications for the sport overall.

“What they did yesterday was transcendent,” Steinberg, who inspired Tom Cruise’s character in the 1996 film “Jerry Maguire,” said.

“It turned into American patriotism. They are fresh-faced, hyper-athletic, wonderful representatives of this country. They just put the federation in a very difficult bargaining position.”

Additionally, the agent said the team would be a dream client for him.

“I would love to have this case, because who wants to be in the position of telling these women they shouldn’t be paid the same as the men when they are now world champions?” he asked.

POLITICIANS PRAISE AMERICA’S WORLD CUP WIN, SOME SAY ‘PAY THEM WHAT THEY DESERVE’

“Now you will see the celebrity-making machine go to work and they will be on late-night talk shows. Some of the stars — Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan — they will be on television. They will be ubiquitous.”

However, Steinberg predicted the case is not likely to escalate to the courtroom.

“I think that all gets settled. It never gets to court,” he said.

ALEXI LALAS: US WOMEN’S NATIONAL SOCCER TEAM PLAYERS DESERVE AS MUCH MONEY AS POSSIBLE

“I think it gets negotiated out with the federation.”

While some stars of the U.S. team have delved into politics in recent weeks, Steinberg claimed such a development shouldn’t hurt their ability to broker for more equal pay.

“You would say, just for the negotiation, you would rather that Megan had not said anything about a presidential visit,” he said.

“At the same time, it’s ‘U-S-A, U-S-A — these are fresh-faced, wholesome, non-scandal women who went out and beat the world. That’s how they will be in a great negotiating position,”

“This is their chance to burst forward and create a groundswell for American women’s soccer.”

‘THE VIEW’ HOSTS FIND SOMETHING TO AGREE ON, CLAIM THERE’S ‘OBVIOUSLY SEXISM’ IN WOMEN’S WORLD CUP PAY

Recently, FIFA — the sport’s governing body — has faced criticism for its pay gap between men and women’s soccer. Prize money for the Women’s World Cup was $30 million, while the men’s prize purse was set at $400 million at last year’s competition in Russia.

Rapinoe had called out FIFA on the pay disparity ahead of the final.

“It certainly is not fair,” she said. “We should double it now and use that number to double it or quadruple it for the next time. That’s what I mean when we talk about, ‘Do we feel respected?’”

On the 2020 campaign trail, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y. echoed the sentiment, telling reporters in New Hampshire the women’s team, “is on fire,” and should be treated as such.

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“They win more than the men’s team,” she said.

“They should be paid at least equal pay for equal work and based on performance, I’d actually consider paying them more.”

The Democratic hopeful called the current difference in pay, “an outrage.”

Fox News’ Stephen Sorace and Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.

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