Just three days after winning the 2019 World Cup final against the Netherlands, the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team took to the streets of New York City to celebrate their victory. On Wednesday, July 10, thousands of people converged on the Canyon of Heroes — a stretch of Broadway between Battery Park and City Hall — to shower the team with confetti and cheer them on. But these tweets about the parade prove that New Yorkers weren't just there to celebrate the team's latest trophy; they were also applauding the U.S. Women's fight for equal pay.
The U.S. Women's National Team (USWNT) has demanded equal pay for years, per Refinery29, but they're currently taking this struggle to the next level. On July 7, the USWNT won the FIFA World Cup for a whopping fourth time (and the second time in a row) — and according to BuzzFeed News, fans immediately broke out into chants of "equal pay!" It quickly became clear that the team was seeking more than a victory; it wanted justice.
According to Vox, this year's USWNT is only the second women's team in American history to get a ticker tape parade in Manhattan, after getting one four years ago for its 2015 World Cup victory. But the soccer team's members want more than just a parade. They also want a raise, and they're well on their way to getting one. All 28 members of the team filed a pay discrimination lawsuit against the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) in March, alleging that they are paid less than players on the men's national team despite generating more revenue. In May 2019, the USSF formally denied allegations of gender discrimination, USA Today reported.
In the lawsuit, the USWNT alleged that they were making just 38% of what their male counterparts made for certain games. The team members also claimed that they drew larger audiences and played more games than the men's national team, despite the USSF's alleged allocation of fewer resources to promoting the women's games. In June — more than three months after the lawsuit was filed — the USWNT and the USSF reached an agreement to pursue mediation following the World Cup. So we might be hearing more about this process now that the team has returned from France.
Mediation or no, the USWNT is certainly not alone in advocating for equal pay. During Wednesday's ticker tape parade, many attendees brought signs advocating for equal pay — and even people who couldn't be there in person joined the calls for gender equality on social media.
Before the parade even started, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a law that he said would eliminate a loophole that still enables some wage discrimination in his state. Then, during the ticker tape parade, New York City first lady Chirlane McCray told the crowd that "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."
In an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper on July 9, USWNT co-captain Megan Rapinoe explained that she and her teammates want to go to Washington D.C. to talk to lawmakers about equal pay, the opioid epidemic, and other issues they care about. That's why some team members have already accepted invitations from Democrats such as New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to visit Capitol Hill. However, Rapinoe reiterated that she had no desire to go to the White House because "there are so many other people that I would rather talk to and have meaningful conversations that could really affect change in Washington."
Everyone from 12-year-old soccer fans to seasoned politicians joined the USWNT in calling for equal pay during the ticker tape parade, and the parade will definitely not be the last time we hear about this fight for gender equality. As one sign from the parade route made clear, "parades are cool but equal pay is cooler!"