SheBelieves Cup: Canada protests ahead of 2-0 loss to USA over pay equity

SheBelieves Cup: Canada protests ahead of 2-0 loss to USA over pay equity

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Canada teamUS player Megan Rapinoe said pre-kick pictures are “really powerful to move forward”.

Canada wore purple “enough is enough” T-shirts to protest their national association ahead of their 2-0 loss to USA at the SheBelieves Cup in Orlando, Florida.

The team, who were at odds with Canada Soccer over concerns about funding cuts and a lack of pay equity, were grouped by the USA before kick-off.

At the beginning of the week, the Olympic champions called off the strike action.

Canada’s captain Christine Sinclair said her team was “mentally exhausted”.

“Either we fight for it all and come up on fire or we come out flat. And I think you saw that first 10, 15 minutes, we came out flat,” Sinclair added.

“I think we looked like a tired team going up against a team… I mean, they’re world champions for a reason and you have to be at your best to compete with them. And we weren’t tonight.”

Ahead of the game, the Canadian Soccer Players Association said the team would “continue to wear purple until our association implements standards that ensure equal treatment and equal opportunity.”

Both teams wore purple tape on their wrists throughout the game.

Canada, world-ranked sixth and 2021 Olympic champions, called off a strike over threats of legal action by the Canada Soccer Association (CSA) and announced it would compete in the four-team SheBelieves Cup tournament “in protest”.

They have threatened to boycott a team camp in April if their demands are not met.

The CSA says it has a “demonstrated track record” of supporting women’s football, adding that equal pay has been “at the heart” of negotiations with national team players.

Mallory Swanson scored both goals for the USA in the first half in front of 14,697 fans at Orlando’s Exploria Stadium.

Canada’s head coach Bev Priestman said the team must “come through” for the remainder of the tournament, with Canada taking on Brazil on Sunday and Japan next Wednesday.

“I couldn’t fault their efforts,” Priestman said. “You could only see their flatness.”

Priestman added that one task is to keep up team morale ahead of the Women’s World Cup, which takes place in Australia and New Zealand from July 20 to August 20.

“This will not be fixed overnight,” she added. “So we have to prevail. We need to turn it around now and be fresh faced and ready to play again for game two. Because there are probably now five games before a World Cup. That’s the tough position we were in.

“It’s difficult. I’m exhausted, they’re exhausted. But we have to find a way. These things can be the reason why this team wins a World Cup. These moments make you. Adversity makes you.”

Wrist tapedPlayers and coaches wore purple tape in support of Canada’s protest and white tape reading “Defend Trans Joy.”

“We are not afraid”

Canada’s protest wasn’t the only stance taken by the players at the game, as they campaigned for transgender rights in a state that has legislated against them.

Both pairs of players wore tape around their wrists that read “Defend Trans Joy”.

New Florida Lawsban transgender health treatments for under 18s. In 2021, the state banned transgender girls and women from participating in women’s sports in public schools and colleges.

The finals of the SheBelieves Cup games will be played in Texas, a state that has also enacted legislation targeting transgender athletes.

USA striker Alex Morgan, who was honored before kick-off for a recent 200 caps, had previously said the team should consider not playing in statesexternal link that are introducing such legislation.

She said, “As we look at those games in Florida and Texas respectively, we need to continue to step it up and also have internal discussions with the team because we’re not afraid to have tough conversations or take a stand for what’s right.”

Marta returns

Brazil’s Marta, who recovered from an anterior cruciate ligament injury last March, returned for her 1-0 win over Japan in the other cup game.

The 36-year-old came on as a substitute in the 68th minute and provided an assist for Debinha’s goal.

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