Players from the United States Women’s National Soccer Team are protesting during the National Anthem before their games amid an ongoing dispute with its governing body, the U.S. Soccer Federation.
“The increasingly bitter dispute between American women’s national soccer team and the U.S. Soccer Federation spilled onto the field Wednesday night when players wore their warm-up jerseys inside-out in a protest before their 3-1 victory over Japan,” NBC News reports.
The decision to swap their jersey hid the USWNT logo, which is an American crest.
“We just decided today as a group, and everybody was on board with it,” said star forward Carli Lloyd. “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.”
No players kneeled or otherwise protested the playing of the National Anthem.
“I think it’s just very unfortunate timing,” she continued. “All of it. Obviously, this is a very, very tough situation that we as players are in, and it’s not something that we want to be public about, you know? But at the end of the day, I think that we all stand united as a team.”
The players are uniting against the federation as an ongoing legal feud over discriminatory pay disputes.
USSF president Carlos Cordeiro responded to the move by announcing the federation would be modifying its legal team.
“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 per 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.”
Cordeiro said the USSF asked Latham & Watkins “to join and guide our legal strategy going forward.” Seyfarth Shaw had been representing the federation; Latham is the firm where former USSF president Alan Rothenberg is a retired partner.
“I have made it clear to our legal team that even as we debate facts and figures in the course of this case, we must do so with the utmost respect not only for our women’s national team players but for all female athletes around the world,” Cordeiro said.
Responding to the new statement, Lloyd added: “I can’t comment, I didn’t fully read the statement that was put out, yet. I literally just came out a locker room in here. So, I’ll take some time to read it. But I think a lot of it has been unacceptable, what’s gone on. We just want to continue to keep making things better. We’ve obviously proven it on the field, and that’s ultimately our job first and foremost. But it’s our job as well to keep pushing and making things better.”