“I’ve learned to never give up on your team,” one girl in the crowd told CBS News, “and always have fun in the game.” Another confessed that she had embarked on a 10-hour journey from Ohio, waking up at two in the morning—but that “just seeing them, and being able to experience this,” was worth it.
Those two girls were in good company at today’s ticker tape parade celebrating the U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT) in the wake of their fourth World Cup victory. Thousands of like-minded supporters convened in New York City this morning for the event, holding signs that read “RAPINOE FOR PRESIDENT” and demanding equal pay for women athletes.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo joined teammates Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan, Julie Ertz, Carli Lloyd, Crystal Dunn and Tobin Heath on floats shaped like the city skyline or declaring, in oversize letters, that the women were “WORLD CHAMPIONS.” White confetti rained down on the crowd while “America the Beautiful” played out on bagpipes in the streets.
The ticker tape parade was the second celebrating the team, and the first in New York since 2015. It was an honor befitting the USWNT, who have more than earned their status as feminist icons and national heroes.
“This group is so resilient, is so tough, has such a sense of humor, is just so badass,” USWNT co-captain Rapinoe said in a speech at the event. “We got tea sipping. We got celebrations. We have pink hair and purple hair. We have tattoos, dreadlocks. We got white girls and black girls and everything in between. Straight girls and gay girls, hey!”
The USWNT aren’t lacking reasons to celebrate: the team has won the World Cup four times and taken home four Olympic gold medals; they’re ranked number one in the world, and have been for 10 of the last 11 years. But the victory they’ve been seeking won’t be won on the field. Earlier this year, on International Women’s Day, the team filed a class-action lawsuit for equal pay.
Trump has been quick to dismiss claims of gender discrimination from the team, remarking that it’s a matter of “numbers.” But the USWNT has outperformed their male counterparts time and time again, and they bring in more revenue than the USMNT.
Last weekend, Trump challenged Rapinoe, an outspoken critic of the president, to win before continuing to speak out for equal pay—and then she scored the goal that earned her team their fourth World Cup.
“If you’re not down with equal pay at this point, you’re so far out of reality and the conversation that we can’t even go there,” Rapinoe told Rachel Maddow on Tuesday. “I think it’s time to go to the next phase.”
After the ticker-tape is swept off the streets, the demands made by the USWNT will continue to echo through the headlines and reverberate on social media. The players aren’t giving up on their fight for equal pay, and neither are their supporters.
“I deserve this,” Rapinoe declared in a now-viral video, balancing the World Cup trophy on her knee while she sipped Lady Dame champagne in the streets. “I deserve everything.”