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Canada, USWNT players stand in solidarity for equality, trans rights before SheBelieves Cup match

Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

ORLANDO, Fla. — United States and Canada women’s players stood in solidarity for gender equality and transgender rights on Thursday ahead of their SheBelieves Cup match at Exploria Stadium. Players from each team wore purple tape on one wrist to represent gender equality and on the other wrist, white tape with “Defend Trans Joy” written on it.

The display for equality comes in response to the Canadian players’ ongoing fight with their federation for equal treatment with the men. Canada players say they are playing the SheBelieves Cup in protest after initially trying to strike last week before the Canadian Soccer Association threatened them with legal action.

In a statement issued by Canadian players before Thursday’s match, players said they “will continue to wear purple until our association has standards in place that ensure equal treatment and opportunity.” Players said this week that they want increased staffing and resources equal to what the men’s team got at their World Cup last year, in addition to owed backpay from 2022.

Canada players walked out for their national anthem wearing purple t-shirts that read “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.” U.S. and Canada players then locked arms in the center circle prior to kickoff.

U.S. players offered their verbal support ahead of the match and said they would join their Canadian counterparts, many of whom are their professional club teammates, in protest. On Thursday, U.S. players joined them in a public display to kick off the eighth edition of the SheBelieves Cup, a U.S.-based tournament named to highlight gender equality.

“Although we are now on the other side of this fight and can focus on our play on the field, our counterparts in Canada and elsewhere are experiencing the same pervasive misogyny and unequal treatment that we faced,” the USWNT Payers Association said in a statement. “We stand with all women’s footballers in calling attention to their collective fight, but also call on everyone to join and support the fight to eradicate all inequality and discrimination that exists in our sport.”

U.S. women’s players achieved equitable pay with the men’s team in 2022 when each team signed a new, separate collective bargaining agreement. U.S. women’s players and the U.S. Soccer Federation also agreed to a $24 million settlement last year to end an equal-pay lawsuit that lasted six years.

The “Defend Trans Joy” messaging that appeared on players’ other wrists on Thursday was a response to recent anti-transgender legislation passed in Florida.

Canada midfielder Quinn identifies as transgender and non-binary. Several Canadian and U.S. players have previously spoken out in support of transgender rights. 

U.S. forward Alex Morgan recently said that “the team definitely needs to look at” the playing of games in states with discriminatory legislation. U.S. captain and defender Becky Sauerbrunn recently wrote an opinion column slamming Missouri leadership for considering legislation that would discriminate against transgender youth in sports.


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