In the midst of an equal pay lawsuit with the U.S. Soccer Federation, the U.S. women's national team made a silent protest ahead of its SheBelieves Cup match against Japan.
Taking the field in their warm-ups, the team emerged with jerseys turned inside out—hiding the U.S. Soccer crest, but leaving the four stars representing its FIFA World Cup titles visible.
The move by the team comes following the controversial tactics taken by U.S. Soccer in its efforts to win the equal pay case. These tactics concern the argument made by representatives of the women's team that the men's and women's teams perform equal work, a position U.S. Soccer disagrees with.
Under the Equal Pay Act, "equal work" describes work that is "roughly equal in terms of effort, skill and responsibility." Players from the women's team note in filings that responsibilities of their job are essentially the same as the men's team—remain in top physical shape and perform at a high level.
Writing on behalf of U.S. Soccer, attorney Brian Stolzenbach alleges several distinctions between the work of the men's and women's teams, among them that there are different levels of strength and speed required for men's and women's players.
These comments—in addition to U.S. Soccer President Carlos Corderio's critical open letter about the women's team's negotiation tactics—have caused a perceived rift between the two sides, causing speculation that a settlement in the case is unlikely. If a settlement is not reached, the case would proceed to trial beginning on May 5.
Corderio offered an apology to the USWNT on Wednesday night.
"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 a statement. ""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."