SheBelieves Cup: Where Belief Meets Action
The SheBelieves Cup is becoming the hottest spot for equal pay activism. The Cup was founded in 2016, hosted by the United States Soccer Federation (USSF.) The Canadian Women’s National Team is all but certain to protest the unequal treatment at the hands of Canada Soccer at the first game of the 2023 SheBelives Cup on February 16. Three years earlier in 2020, the United States Women’s National Team (USWNT) used the SheBelieves Cup as a platform in their fight for equal pay.
In 2019, the USWNT sued USSF for pay discrimination. In February 2020, about a month before the 2020 SheBelieves Cup, USSF filed a court document that asserted, “it is undisputed that the job of [Men's National Team] player requires materially more strength and speed than the job of [Women's National Team] player.” It then concluded that “the job of MNT players carries more responsibility than the job of a WNT player."
In response to these statements and USSF as a whole, the USWNT engaged in a collective protest. In the warm ups for the final game, the entire team wore their warm-up shirts inside out. This meant that the US crest, representing USSF, would not be visible; the only insignia that remained were the embroidered stars that represent the four World Cups the players won.
The move was very impactful and widely supported by fans and equal pay champions alike. In partnership with the USWNT players association, BreakingT even released a t-shirt design, called 4 Stars Only, which resembles what the crest looks like when the warm up tops were worn inside out: an outline.
Canada, taking a page out of their greatest rivals’ playbook, wore their training shirts inside out on February 15, 2023.
Canada captain Christine Sinclair declared that “The She Believes (Cup) is being played in protest.” The team is keen to seize the timing of the Cup and the massive platform it demands in order to make a statement. However that statement is conveyed, the USWNT and fans from both sides are sure to be behind them.