Why Members of the US Women’s Soccer Team Are Wearing Their Jerseys Inside Out

The women’s soccer pay equity saga is raging on.

This week, the U.S. Soccer Federation argued, in a legal response to a gender discrimination suit filed by 28 members of the U.S. Women’s National Team against the federation in March 2019, that male players are physically superior and that their sports’ participation requires a greater level of skill.

The language — and the implication that men’s purported supremacy justifies pay inequity — has spawned backlash from fans and U.S. soccer sponsors, including The Coca-Cola Co. and Visa. The players had their own form of protest, too.

On Wednesday, for their SheBelieves Cup game against Japan, the USWNT emerged for pregame warmups with their shirts inside out, hiding the U.S. Soccer crest and exposing only the four stars representing each world championship title won. (You can buy the same look here.)

The United States Women's National Team poses for a team photo before a SheBelieves Cup women's soccer match against Japan, at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, TexasJapan US Soccer, Frisco, United States - 11 Mar 2020
The USWNT took the field in inside-out warmup shirts to protest pay disparity and comments defending the injustice made by the U.S. Soccer Federation.
CREDIT: Jeffrey McWhorter/AP/Shutterstoc

“It is the great honor of my life to play this sport and represent this country. Every woman deserves equal pay and every institution anywhere that doesn’t value women as much as men must change now,” player Christen Press posted on Twitter.

“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,” teammate Ali Kreiger also tweeted. “We love this sport and this country, and we cannot stand for this misogynistic treatment.”

The U.S. won the match over Japan and during the closing minutes of the game, U.S. Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro released a statement apologizing for statements documented in the court filings.

He also added that the Federation has requested additional legal support from law firm Latham & Watkins in the legal proceedings. The trial is scheduled to begin May 5.

“I don’t know if it’s a responsibility, but I want things to change,” Megan Rapinoe, the team’s co-captain and Nike athlete, told FN last year. “There’s such an incredible movement around women happening right now, though it’s not quick enough. There’s still so much tension and pushback, whether it’s racial issues or gender issues or pay disparity.”

(In the wake of the coronavirus concerns, USMNT and USWNT games have been called off for March and April.)

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