When the United States women's national team took the field in Frisco, Texas on Wednesday to face off against Japan in the SheBelieves Cup, they did so with their warm-up shirts that were worn inside-out. The stylistic choice appeared to be a message of protest in the wake of the U.S. Soccer Federation arguing in court that men's soccerthan the women's equivalent of the sport.
The arguments from the USSF were made in the context of a lawsuit members of the USWNT brought against the organization over unequal pay between the men's and women's teams. Along with arguing that women's soccer requires less skill than men's soccer, the USSF also argued that being on the men's team carries more responsibility than the women's team and that the crowds the men's team face are generally more hostile. As a result, the organization is correct in paying the women less than the men, despite the women generating more revenue since 2015.
"This ridiculous 'argument' belongs in the Paleolithic era," said Molly Levison, a spokesperson for the players, shortly after the court documents came out. "It sounds as if it has been made by a caveman. Literally everyone in the world understands that an argument that male players 'have more responsibility' is just plain, simple sexism and illustrates the very gender discrimination that caused us to file this lawsuit to begin with. So [I'm] looking forward to trial on May 5."
Other women's soccer players who have represented the United States in competitions responded on Twitter.
FIFA prize money calculations can and will be debated. Commercial revs income can and will be debated. TV ratings and sponsership can and will be debated. But to read that @ussoccer thinks this of the @USWNT and female athletes in general is disgusting and disturbing to me https://t.co/fGHC4pHTcd— Heather O'Reilly (@HeatherOReilly) March 10, 2020
Well let it be known how they really feel about us. But here we are still showing up and changing the conversation and the culture of this country. I’m proud of these women. It will all be worth it one day. Count on that. We won’t stop. https://t.co/yt9wflT9GR— Ashlyn Harris (@Ashlyn_Harris) March 11, 2020
Members of the women's squad are asking for around $67 million in back pay for U.S. Soccer allegedly violating the Equal Pay Act. The trial for this lawsuit is scheduled to begin May 5 in federal court in California.