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Play for Equality

TEAM UNITY The U.S. women’s soccer team inspires female athletes the world over. ACTION FOTO SPORT/NURPHOTO/GETTY IMAGES

On March 8, all 28 members of the United States women’s soccer team filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation. The players say that for years, American soccer’s governing organization has discriminated discriminate ARIEL SKELLEY—GETTY IMAGES to unfairly treating one group of people differently from another group (verb) It is illegal for a business to discriminate based on an employee's race. against female athletes. It pays them far less than it pays male athletes.

The suit involves some of the world’s top soccer players, including captains Alex Morgan and Carli Lloyd. This summer, the team will defend its championship title at the Women’s World Cup, in France.

Players say that discrimination also affects coaching, medical treatment, and how the team travels to the games. The women play more matches than the men, and they win more often. Still, the suit argues, they are paid less.

“Each of us is extremely proud to wear the United States jersey,” Morgan said in a statement. “We also take seriously the responsibility that comes with that. We believe that fighting for gender equality in sports is a part of that responsibility.”

The suit continues a long battle. In 1999, after winning the Women’s World Cup, the team skipped a tournament and won higher pay. In recent years, athletes from the U.S. women’s national hockey team and Women’s National Basketball Association have also sought equal pay.

“It’s bold and brave,” former team captain Julie Foudy said of the suit, on PBS NewsHour. “They understand that their role is to pioneer pioneer BRUCE YUANYUE BI/GETTY IMAGES to go somewhere or do something new so that others can follow (verb) The artist Pablo Picasso pioneered a new style of painting. for other female athletes.”