The tension between the USWNT and the US Soccer Federation built on Wednesday night as captain Megan Rapinoe rejected the federation's apology as insincere.
Rapinoe instead called the organisation “misogynistic and sexist” after it was revealed US Soccer had claimed the US Women’s National Team had lesser responsibilities and physical abilities than their male counterparts.
Court documents filed by the federation detailed how the USSF believed the USWNT ignored the “materially higher level of speed and strength required to perform the job of an MNT player” in their Equal Pay claim.
Carlos Cordeiro, president of the USSF apologised for the “offence and pain” that had been caused following the release of court documents. The apology came after team sponsor The Coca-Cola Company publicly denounced the USSF and words used in the court documents, calling the move “unacceptable and offensive”.
But Rapinoe and her team were unreceptive to the apology from Cordeiro with the team co-captain speaking out after her side’s 3-1 victory over Japan in the She Believes Cup.
“That [apology] wasn't for us. That was for fans, for the media, for sponsors, because that all sounded pretty similar to what we've heard before.
“Every negotiation we've had, those undertones are in there, that we're lesser - every mediation that we had, every time we meet with them and obviously the reason that we filed this lawsuit,” she told BBC reporter, Emma Sanders, after scoring in her side’s 3-1 win.
The USWNT showed their dismay at the comments in the documents with a pre-match protest at the She Believes Cup. Players wore training tops inside out to hide the USSF crest whilst singing anthems and for the team photo.
The tension comes as USSF filed court documents in response to USWNT players' filed a lawsuit against the federation after their victory in the FIFA Women’s World Cup last summer. In what has already proven to be a contentious period of negotiation, 28 players are seeking more than £50 million in damages.
On 5 May, a trial will begin in which USWNT players will argue the USSF violated the Equal Pay Act and Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Rapinoe went on to express her dismay that the national federation could be so tone-deaf when it held a responsibility to protect women and girls playing football. She used a post-match interview, reported by Fox News to reach out to young footballers and reassure them that what had been written in the court documents should not be believed.
“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.
"We're all created equal and should all have the equal opportunity to go out and pursue our dreams, and for us, that means playing on the soccer field. So, everything that was in that deposition, what they said in the argument is just not true. Don't ever believe that.”
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