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USWNT uses the World Cup scene to shine spotlight on equality




Megan Rapinoe said about the FIFA support for women's games, "The incremental change we've seen is just not enough." (Seth Wenig / Associated Press)

NEW YORK – Two weeks before the Women's World Cup begins in France, the American women's national football team is on several missions.

There is the issue of the shipping comparison against Mexico Sunday at the Red Bull Arena in Harrison, NJ. Tactics must be polished and chemistry perfected before the team flies to London for pre-tournament training camp. 19659006] There is the marketing element that Friday included a look at Times Square, the revelation of player paintings here and in cities around the country and several hours of interviews with local and national journalists at Twitter's offices in the Chelsea neighborhood .

Forward Alex M organ is on the cover of Time and the whole team was invited to "Good Morning America". As today's events fell, players played a football game with their own characters.

America loves a winner regardless of gender or sport, and the American women's football players, known to football players abroad, have won much over 30 years.

But they have a different purpose here, and with the spotlight brightest within the sports mask, they continue to raise issues of equality within both US circles and the world of football.

As the group's F-revelator against Thailand on June 11 in Reims, Americans are approaching full attention on on-field issues, such as tactics and formations. However, the long course of the tournament has provided the opportunity to discuss justice and the future.

"There is so much potential, so much untapped potential," said Megan Rapinoe, a prominent midfielder. "I do not really understand why there is such a resistance to everything about women. It is quite clear that women in sport have not been treated with the same care and funding as men's sports. No one really argues for it anymore. I do not understand why the action step is not there with it. "

Problems between women's program and the US football association have been simulating for years and rising regularly to the surface. The latest shot came in March, when the women filed a gender issue against the Chicago-based governing body.

With Women & # 39; s World Cup near – and most attention to the sport since 2015, when the US won its third title before the largest television audience (23 million) in American football history – the trial was not random. Players take their complaints to a more attentive audience.

A fear among fans is that the trial threatens to distract from the team's on-field mission.

On Friday, coach Jill Ellis rejected such concerns. 19659016] "It doesn't go into the closet. It doesn't go into the meeting room," she said. "Part of it is that we work together and do this work. Yes, I understand. I am a woman. I have a young daughter. I understand many of the larger social issues out there, but I also know right now, The job is to get the team focused – and they are focused. "

Ellis is caught in the middle of the dispute: a USSF employee who has built strong ties with the core of players over five years.

"I'm really lucky to have an incredibly professional group of women," Ellis said. "The players understand that we support them, we have our backs on and off the pitch. We must be like that. It's just natural when you get together and try to achieve something incredibly big. You have to feel united. do. "

Besides the player's complaints with the USSF, they are also fighting for women's football worldwide. FIFA, the sport's international governing body, is starting to move around after pulling its feet on the female game, and many national federations have under-funded their women's programs.

"Battles have been done, but in terms of the capacity of change and their ability to change – of course they have virtually unlimited resources – I don't think it has really been a huge change at all," Rapinoe said. . "The incremental change we've seen is just not enough."

FIFA has doubled the pot of women's world championship winnings to $ 30 million, but at the same time, the gap between men and women has grown. The men's pot has reached $ 400 million, from $ 358 million.

However, awareness of women's football globally is growing. Eg. The Women's FA Cup in England has drawn more than 43,000 fans in each of the last two seasons, and club matches from Italy to Mexico set records.

"We've seen women's games grow tremendously on the pitch. We've also seen it grow from the pitch," veteran Carli Lloyd said. "You see that other federations support their teams more and more. It's massive. It grows and grows, and that's what we want to see."

Still, struggles remain.

On the biggest day of women's football – July 7, the World Cup final in Lyon – International officials also joined the championship of two men's tournaments: Copa America (in South America) and the Gold Cup (challenged by teams from North and Central America and the Caribbean ).

On Friday, Rapinoe called it "ridiculous and disappointing."

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