It has been a year since the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation demanding equal pay. In that time, the USWNT has won (another) World Cup title, Megan Rapinoe became a phenomenon and was named Sports Illustrated’s “Sports Person of the Year,” and Ashlyn Harris and Ali Krieger had the wedding to end all weddings. They’ve also continued to go toe-to-toe with the USSF — this time, in response to filings from the USSF justifying paying them less. According to the filings, USSF says their role on the women’s team carries less responsibility than that of the men because they lack the strength and skill of the men’s team players.
But, the USWNT was not having it, and they staged a protest before Wednesday’s She Believes Cup. The team took the field for the National Anthem wearing their warm-up jerseys inside out, effectively hiding the USSF crest. “We wanted to stand together as a team and make a statement on behalf of all women and girls that the Federation’s comments are unacceptable,” the players said in a statement provided to The Athletic’s Meg Linehan. “We love this sport and this country, and we cannot stand for this misogynistic treatment.”
The “misogynistic treatment” the players are referring to are the court filings from the USSF. In them, the Federation claims that “the job of a men’s national team player carries more responsibility than that of a women’s national team player” and that “the job of a MNT player (competing against senior men’s national teams) requires a higher level of skill based on speed and strength than does the job of a WNT player (competing against senior women’s national teams).”
Looking at ISI Photos and saw that #USWNT players have all taken the field wearing their warm-up jerseys inside out, hiding the U.S. Soccer crest… but not the four stars.— Meg Linehan (@itsmeglinehan) March 11, 2020
Yeah, that feels intentional.
📸 Brad Smith/ISI pic.twitter.com/rGEiYghZfb
There have been maybe a half-dozen men in the history of the USMNT program that have had the technical ability to score the 2 goals that the USWNT have scored in this game— Kim McCauley (@lgbtqfc) March 12, 2020
Imagine watching this and then arguing in court that these women lack skill https://t.co/9VlpwdF8lX— Lindsay Gibbs (@linzsports) March 12, 2020
After the Federation’s arguments were made public, fans and sponsors — including Coca-Cola, Budweiser, Visa, and Deloitte — were outraged. “We are extremely disappointed with the unacceptable and offensive comments made by US Soccer,” a spokesperson for Coca-Cola said in a statement to BuzzFeed News. “The Coca-Cola Company is firm in its commitment to gender equality, fairness and women’s empowerment in the United States and around the world and we expect the same from our partners.” U.S. Soccer president Carlos Cordiero apologized, but many felt it was too little too late, and there have been calls for his resignation.
The USWNT signed a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) in 2017, which didn’t offer them the kind of deal and is why they sued the USSF for gender discrimination in 2019. While the USMNT released a statement of support last July, many of the women’s team players felt slighted by the lack of explicit solidarity from the men.
“How often do you see the men’s national team saying, ‘You know what? That is fucked up. These are the best players in the world,’” Harris told Power Plays, calling support from the men’s team “the fucking thing that’s missing.” Earlier this month, the men’s team finally released a letter asking the USSF to pay the women fairly (though, as Lindsay Gibbs points out at Power Plays, their letter seemed to imply they wanted the lawsuit to be resolved more because they were tired of sexism negatively impacting them). On Thursday, Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber released a statement calling the USSF’s arguments “unacceptable and offensive.”
“When I saw the media reports of U.S. Soccer’s recent filing, I was shocked and angry. I expressed to the President of the Federation in no uncertain terms how unacceptable and offensive I found the statements in that filing to be,” Garber wrote.
During Wednesday’s game, chants of “equal pay” could be heard from the crowd, and Rapinoe spoke directly to young kids, hammering home why she and her teammates will continue to fight for what they deserve: “You are not lesser just because you’re a girl. You are not better just because you’re a boy. We are all created equal and should all have the equal opportunity to go out and pursue our dreams.”
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