BURLINGTON, Vt. -- A Vermont high school soccer team was penalized for echoing the United States women's national soccer team's calls for equal pay but is turning the situation into a teachable moment.
Four players of Burlington High School's team were removed from Friday night's match for taking off their uniform tops and revealing #EqualPay T-shirts underneath.
"We had planned to just lift them up to show the crowd our equal pay jerseys," player Lydia Sheeser explained. "People got excited."
Added player Helen Worden: "I ripped mine off and twirled it around."
"The fans were just absolutely going crazy, chanting, 'Equal pay, equal pay, equal pay!' Then, all of a sudden, the officials came over and decided [to give] a yellow card for unsportsmanlike conduct," coach Jeff Hayes said.
The referee issued a late penalty for their excessive celebration, and the game ended in a 3-3 tie.
Despite the penalty, the players continued their push for pay parity. They've now sold more than 700 of the jerseys and have invited men to pay 16% more in a nod to the average pay gap in Vermont.
The school's men's soccer team donned the jerseys in support, and the referee who handed out the yellow card ordered his own jersey after the game and told the players he was excited to wear it and support them.
Money made from the sales will support local youth soccer leagues in the team's community.
"Hopefully they'll be inspired by us like we were by the women's national team," player Maia Vota said of the younger players the funds will benefit.
Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy and U.S. women's soccer legend Brandi Chastain are among those who have taken to social media to voice their support for the team.