Thousands turn out in New York to honor US Women's World Cup champs
Alex Morgan (L) and Megan Rapinoe, stars of the World Cup-winning US women's national soccer team, take part in a parade in New York on Wednesday, July 10. EFE-EPA/JUSTIN LANE
Fans cheer the members of the World Cup-winning US women's national soccer team during a parade in New York on Wednesday, July 10. EFE/EPA/JASON SZENES
Alex Morgan (3rd R) and other members of the World Cup-winning US women's national soccer team celebrate with fans during a parade in New York on Wednesday, July 10. EFE/EPA/JUSTIN LANE
New York (United States), 10/07/2019.- US Women's soccer player Megan Rapinoe (R) pours champagne down the throat of teammate Alexandra Long during a ticker-tape parade in New York on Wednesday, July 10, to celebrate the side's victory in the 2019 Women's World Cup.EFE/EPA/JUSTIN LANE
New York, Jul 10 (efe-epa).- A ticker-tape parade here Wednesday honoring the World Cup-winning US women's soccer team drew thousands of people eager to catch a glimpse of their heroines, above all co-captain and star Megan Rapinoe, now famous far beyond the sport for her feud with President Donald Trump.
"We have to love more, hate less," Rapinoe, an open lesbian, said in an emotional speech at New York's City Hall.
Children were well represented among the throng who came out to enjoy the Parade of Champions and offer support for the demand of the US Women's National Team (USWNT) - who have won the Women's World Cup a record four times - to be paid as much as their counterparts on the men's squad.
"They inspire me to work hard and do the best I can," a 10-year-old girl said as she watched the USWNT players ride down Broadway on a dozen floats.
The girl, her face painted in the stars and stripes of the US flag, said she has been a soccer fan since the age of 3.
The players were accompanied on the floats by the Big Apple's mayor, Bill de Blasio, New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other politicians.
The procession made its way along a stretch of Broadway known as the Canyon of Heroes, running from the Battery - at the southern tip of Manhattan - to City Hall.
Those lucky enough to get tickets were admitted inside the gates of City Hall for a ceremony that included the mayor's presenting the team with the keys to the city.
"Mayor, you're going to have to change the locks," one of the players quipped.
De Blasio's wife, Chirlane McCray, said the USWNT "showed us that 'playing like a girl' is to be unbeatable," and then led the crowd in chanting "USA! Equal pay! USA! Equal pay!"
"That was a moment of unity," De Blasio said of the parade. "That was a moment where all the good in our city, all the good in our nation, you could feel it. This team brought us together.
"On behalf of 8.6 million New Yorkers, what an honor to have this great team among us," the mayor said,
The 28 members of the USWNT chose March 8, International Women's Day, to file a gender-discrimination lawsuit against the United States Soccer Federation (USSF), complaining not only of being paid less than the men, but also of suffering of disparate treatment in terms of scheduling matches, the quality of physical training and coaching and in travel accommodations.
And public sympathy for the USWNT's case only grew as the team progressed through the 2019 Women's World Cup in France.
The US men's team failed even to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
During Wednesday's celebration, USSF president Carlos Cordeiro seemed to suggest that the federation was ready to address the equal pay issue.
"Today on behalf of all of us at US Soccer, I want to say, we hear you, we believe in you and we're committed to doing right by you," he said. "That is why over the years ... US soccer has invested more in women's soccer than any country in the world."
"We believe at US Soccer that all female athletes deserve fair and equitable pay. Together, I believe that we can get this done," Cordeiro said.
And Rapinoe, after thanking the USSF for their "incredible" support during the World Cup, said she was prepared to take the federation president at his word.
"I'm going to stick my neck out there a little bit, I'm going to endorse Carlos," she said. "I think he's on the right side, I think he's going to make things right. He's proven that he's with us."
The 34-year-old Rapinoe, with her pink hair and willingness to risk controversy, became a symbol of opposition to Trump after she and the president traded barbs on Twitter during the World Cup tournament.
The exchange began when Trump reacted to a video clip from May in which Rapinoe said: "I'm not going to the f------- White House" in the event she and her teammates won the World Cup.
The video surfaced during the tournament, just after the US reached the quarterfinals.
"I am a big fan of the American Team, and Women's Soccer, but Megan should WIN first before she TALKS! Finish the job! We haven't yet .?.?. invited Megan or the team, but I am now inviting the TEAM, win or lose," Trump tweeted.
Rapinoe, who was the tournament's top scorer and won the Golden Ball award as the most valuable player, called for unity in her comments Wednesday.
"This is my charge to everyone. We have to be better. We have to love more, hate less. We've got to listen more and talk less. We've got to know that this is everybody's responsibility," she said. EFE