NEW YORK — To celebrate its fourth Women’s World Cup title, the United States women’s national team was featured in a Ticker Tape parade along the Canyon of Heroes in lower Manhattan.
Thousands of supporters lined the parade route, and then hundreds more greeted the players at City Hall for a ceremony hosted by New York mayor Bill de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray. The event was emcee’d by Robin Roberts.
At City Hall, co-captains Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe spoke, as did U.S. Soccer Federation president Carlos Cordeiro, head coach Jill Ellis, the mayor and first lady.
“They have inspired millions and millions and they’ve inspired, particularly, young women to believe in themselves to be brave, to be bold, to be fierce,” de Blasio said. “What this team has done will live in our history because everyone in their heart feels this is America’s team and we could not be more proud of our team.”
As a team representing a diverse nation, Rapinoe spoke about how the team represents many Americans while praising her teammates, who she called resilient, tough and “badass.”
“We got celebrations,” Rapinoe said. “We got pink hair, purple hair. We got tattoos, dreadlocks. We got white girls, black girls and everything in between. Straight girls, gay girls. I couldn’t be more proud to be a co-captain with Carli and Alex of this team.”
Morgan echoed those statements, saying that “we have been known as America’s favorite soccer team, but from here on out, we’ll just be known as America’s team.”
Equal pay dispute takes center stage
The team’s ongoing fight with U.S. Soccer for equal pay was referenced often Wednesday, ranging from signs and chants during the parade to references to it during the City Hall ceremony.
McCray led the crowd at City Hall in an “equal pay, USA” chant, which de Blasio then repeated during his remarks.
“Now, everyone loves a winner, but do you know what everyone loves even more? A winner with a message,” McCray said. “Our champions have shown us, and they are still showing us how to stand together, fight harder and win for equal rights, social justice and equal pay.”
Cordeiro spoke next, celebrating the unprecedented accomplishments of the team and encouraging the audience to both support the National Women’s Soccer League and the U.S. team during its victory tour, which begins Aug. 3. He also made U.S. Soccer’s case as the world’s leading supporter of women’s soccer.
“We are committed to doing right by you,” Cordeiro said to the players and their supporters. “U.S. Soccer has invested more in women’s soccer than any country in the world, and we will continue to invest more in women’s soccer than any country in the world, and we will continue to encourage others, including our friends at FIFA, to do the same. We believe at U.S. Soccer that all female athletes deserve fair and equitable pay, and together, I believe we can get this done because as this has taught us, being the greatest isn’t just about how you play on the field, it’s about what you stand for off the field.”
Cordeiro was repeatedly interrupted by the crowd during his remarks as they chanted “equal pay.”
Rapinoe, though, endorsed Cordeiro, saying she appreciated his efforts to support the women’s national team since he became president in 2018.
“I think he’s going to make things right,” Rapinoe said. “He’s proven every day since he’s been in office, for us, that he’s with us. He was with us every single day of the World Cup. … He was celebrating every single game. We appreciate that. Thank you.”
She did not, however, suggest the players would back off their push for greater compensation.
“We look forward to holding those feet to the fire,” she said.
Rapinoe’s ‘charge to everyone’
Rapinoe became the one of the team’s most popular and recognizable players during the course of the World Cup and received some of the loudest cheers during the City Hall ceremony. In addition to impressing audiences on the field, she has become well-known for her vocal support of social justice issues outside beyond the team’s equal pay fight.
At the start of her remarks, she said she was at “a loss for words. I mean, I’ll find them, don’t worry.”
After thanking her teammates, U.S. Soccer support staff, the city, police and fire officials who helped make the parade possible and fans, she encouraged everyone listening to “be better.”
“We have to love more, hate less,” she said. “We gotta listen more and talk less. We gotta know that this is everybody’s responsibility — every single person here, every person who’s not here, every single person who doesn’t want to be here, every single person who agrees and doesn’t agree.
“There’s been so much contention in these last years. I’ve been a victim to that. I’ve been a perpetrator of that. My fight with the federation — I’m sorry for some of the things I said, not all of the things, but it’s time to come together. … If this team is any representation of what you can be when you do that, please take that as an example.”