Players for the US women's national soccer team openly protested their employer, US Soccer, at their match Wednesday, turning their jerseys inside out so the logo of the governing federation was not visible — except for the team's four stars, earned for each of its World Cup victories.
The players sported the inside-out jerseys throughout the national anthem before wearing them right side out for their match against Japan.
It is a major development for a team that has so far avoided public protest in the midst of their equal pay lawsuit. But US Soccer faced heavy criticism yesterday after a BuzzFeed News story highlighted arguments made by the organization's attorneys that women players should not be paid equally because they are less skilled and work less demanding jobs than their male counterparts.
Sponsors for US Soccer, including Coca-Cola and Deloitte, blasted the organization's arguments about women athletes as "offensive," with Coke telling BuzzFeed News that it had demanded a meeting over the comments.
Current and former women's national team players also criticized US Soccer. Former star player Heather O'Reilly said on Twitter that "to read that US Soccer thinks this of the USWNT and female athletes in general is disgusting and disturbing to me."
Ashlyn Harris, the team's backup goalie, also addressed the legal claims on Twitter.
"Well let it be known how they really feel about us," she wrote. "But here we are still showing up and changing the conversation and the culture of this country."
The team's matchup against Japan was the final game of the weeklong SheBelieves Cup. The women's team so far is on a 30-game winning streak.