A dispute between the U.S. Women’s National Team and its governing body, the U.S. Soccer Federation, heated up Wednesday when players brought their acrimony into the national anthem.
Before winning their third SheBelieves Cup title at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas, the U.S. women turned their warmup shirts inside out during both the national anthem and the team photo, NBC News reported.
The move was apparently a show of solidarity against the USSF in the midst of a gender discrimination lawsuit, and a response to language in a legal motion this week from the federation, which stated the women’s team did not perform equal work to that of their counterparts on the U.S. men’s team.
While nobody kneeled, players wore their warm-up shirts inside out to hide their U.S. Soccer crest, ESPN reported.
The USWNT has taken the field with their warm up jerseys inside out, hiding the US Soccer crest.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 12, 2020
Apparently feeling that the national anthem is a proper forum for airing out their grievances, every player on the team participated in the protest.
It should be noted that the women still allowed the four stars on their shirts — one star for each of their World Cup titles — to be visible while concealing their allegiance to the U.S. team.
Unity. 4 stars only. Who’s with us? pic.twitter.com/AYv2YlcSl7
— USWNT Players (@USWNTPlayers) March 12, 2020
Midfielder Megan Rapinoe, a frequent critic of President Donald Trump who has protested his policies during the anthem, spoke about Wednesday’s anthem protest after the game, accusing the USSF of “misogyny.”
“We’ve sort of felt that those are some of the undercurrent feelings that they’ve had for a long time,” she said of the federation’s document. “But to see that as the argument, as blatant misogyny and sexism as the argument against us, is really disappointing.”
Megan Rapinoe’s response to US Soccer’s controversial deposition argument 🙃 pic.twitter.com/nUROd5vOVI
— z 🇺🇸 (@wosohype) March 12, 2020
“To every girl out there, to every boy out there, who watches this team, who wants to be on this team, or just wants to live their dream out, you are not lesser just because you’re a girl. You are not better just because you’re a boy,” Rapinoe said.
Forward Carli Lloyd, a two-time FIFA Player of the Year, said of the protest, “We just decided today as a group, and everybody was on board with it.”
“And I think it just was a powerful message, without having to really send a message. I’m really proud of this group because this is not an easy thing. Like I said, we don’t want to be in this position, but we’re here and it’s just got to be better,” Lloyd said.
The legal document filed from the USSF partially read: “A reasonable juror could conclude that the job of [a men’s national team] player requires materially different skill and more responsibility than plaintiffs’ job does, while also taking place under materially different working conditions.”
The portion of the federation’s statement was criticized as sexist, and U.S. Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro issued an apology before Wednesday’s game.
“On behalf of U.S. Soccer, I sincerely apologize for the offense and pain caused by language in this week’s court filing, which did not reflect the values of our Federation or our tremendous admiration of our Women’s National Team,” Cordeiro said in the statement, according to NBC News.
“Our WNT players are incredibly talented and work tirelessly, as they have demonstrated time and again from their Olympic Gold medals to their World Cup titles,” he said.
The women are suing the USSF under the Equal Pay Act and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and are seeking $66 million in damages.
I am all for solidarity and equal or equitable pay, depending on the situation. With the players’ frustration being noted, however, can’t they just leave the national anthem alone?
Protesting during your country’s national anthem is a bad look. Prior to the NFL’s widespread anthem protests, started by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in 2016, the moment was one of solidarity — reminding us that sports and competition can unite us, despite our differences.
Good luck on the field and with your lawsuit, Ms. Rapinoe. But learn from the mistakes of the NFL — Get woke, go broke. The league still hasn’t recovered its tarnished image from allowing its pregame anthems to become a forum for public protest.
Protesting during your country’s national anthem is a surefire way to quickly turn patriotic Americans away from not only your play on the field but also your arguments for equal pay.
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