FRISCO, Texas — The increasingly bitter dispute between American women's national soccer team and the U.S. Soccer Federation spilled onto the field when players wore their warm-up jerseys inside out in a protest before their 3-1 victory over Japan.
Players filed a gender wage discrimination suit against the USSF, a case scheduled for trial starting May 5 in federal court in Los Angeles.
The USSF submitted legal papers this week claiming that the women are less skilled and have less-demanding roles than the men on its national team.
By wearing jerseys inside out, players hid the USSF crest on the jerseys.
"We sort of felt that those are some of the undercurrent feelings that they've had for a long time, but to see that as the argument -- a sort of blatant misogyny and sexism as the argument against us -- it's really disappointing," said forward Megan Rapinoe after the game.
Rapinoe said the message being sent by USSF is false.
"You are not lesser just because you are a girl. You are not better just because you are a boy," Rapinoe said.
The USSF apologized Wednesday for the claims it made. The statement from USSF president Carlos Cordeiro came hours after The Coca-Cola Co. denounced the federation for its stance. Cordeiro also announced a shake-up of the USSF legal team.
The USSF's legal papers had said the men had a “higher level of skill based on speed and strength” and “more responsibility.”
Rapinoe opened the U.S. scoring on a free kick in the seventh minute. Christen Press and Lindsey Horan also scored for the U.S.,
Associated Press' Anne M. Peterson contributed to this report.