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"Equal Play Equal Pay. "That's the logo on the new shirts being sold by the U.S. Women's Soccer team to raise awareness about their fight to close the pay gap. "It was important for us to use the platform before the Olympic Games to keep our fight for equal pay at the forefront," goalkeeper Hope Solo told CNNMoney. "[W]e're going to keep pushing and continue to be vocal." The national team, which represents the U.S. in international games, plans to give 100% of the proceeds from the shirts to their professional teammates in the National Women's Soccer League. The league represents all the women's pro soccer teams in the U.S., and will put the money that's raised into its Players Trust Fund. "The [team's] goal in the quest for equal pay includes helping to provide all women that play soccer for their countries, or as professionals, the right and opportunity to earn a living playing the sport we all love," the players said in a statement.
The idea to sell the shirts to fans came about after five players from the U.S. team -- Alex Morgan, Hope Solo, Megan Rapinoe, Carli Lloyd and Becky Sauerbrunn -- sported the shirts in social media posts on Friday. Twitter responded with users clamoring for their own t-shirts, and the players union noticed the demand. According to a rep for the players' union, they also noticed that knockoffs were being made and decided to release an official version so the proceeds could benefit players. "Fans' response to the shirts has been off the charts," Solo said. "We've been blown away. ... [T]o have them wanting to wear these shirts and help spread our message is pretty humbling." The $20 shirts are being sold until July 22, in partnership with Teespring, an on-demand e-commerce site. The players are also hoping the shirts will help promote their quest for equal pay.
Players on the U.S. Women's Soccer team allege that they're discriminated against because they're paid less than players on the men's national team. They've even filed a complaint against U.S. Soccer with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. A decision in the complaint is still pending, but their attorney Jeffrey Kessler told CNNMoney: "[I]t is time for the USSF to stop playing games and provide equal pay for equal work. If the USSF truly supports the women's game, it should not have to be dragged into legal compliance by the EEOC." Solo said the players simply for U.S. Soccer to follow the law. "What's at stake is the upholding of this basic human right -- not just for us and the players who come after us, but for every woman in every industry who is making less than her male counterpart," Solo said.
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