Washington (AFP) - With America's women ice hockey players threatening a World Championships boycott, 14 US senators have written to USA Hockey urging them to treat the women's national team fairly.
Members of the reigning world champion US women's team said this month that they would not play in the World Championships that open on Friday in Plymouth, Michigan, without "significant progress" toward change after year-long talks over wages and other support.
USA Hockey's board of directors held a meeting Monday afternoon to discuss the matter. USA Today reported the 90-member board was expected to vote on an agreement that could end the proposed boycott. But no word of a resolution had emerged as of midnight Eastern time.
In their letter to USA Hockey executive director Dave Ogrean, the senators said they were "disturbed by reports from the US Women's National Hockey Team suggesting that USA Hockey is not providing 'equitable support' to female athletes."
The letter cited differences in provision of such things as equipment, travel expenses, meal allowances and publicity for men's and women's teams, and notes that while USA Hockey "spends $3.5 million to support male youth athletes in its National Team Development Program, there is no parallel development program for women."
"As senators committed to gender equity in all realms of American life, we write to express our serious concern with allegations raised by members of the US Women's National Hockey Team regarding USA Hockey's inequitable allocation of resources to the women's hockey program and unjust treatment of national team members," the lawmakers said.
US women's hockey players have won the past three world titles, and six of the last seven, but never won a world crown in three tries on home ice, losing to Canada each time, most recently in 2012.
The North American rivals are the only nations to reach a women's world ice hockey final.
While the Americans won the first Olympic women's hockey gold at Nagano, Japan, in 1998, the Canadians have won the four titles since then.