Since returning to the United States from the Women’s World Cup in France, the world champion U.S. national soccer team has spent the week celebrating across the country. After touching down at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey on Monday, U.S. players shared a toast and sang “We Are the Champions.” They have made numerous media appearances throughout the week and rode in a ticker-tape parade through Broadway’s Canyon of Heroes in New York City on Wednesday. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio presented the team with symbolic keys to the city at a rally at City Hall before the players hopped on a plane to Los Angeles, where they were honored by ESPN at The ESPYs with the best team award Wednesday night.
Along the way, the players continued to lobby and receive support for equal pay with the men’s team. U.S. Soccer will give the women bonuses worth about one-fifth of what the men would have earned for winning the World Cup, their fourth title since 1991 in the every-four-years competition. Meanwhile, the U.S. men have never won their event, which has been held since 1930. The women’s team has sued, and the case is currently in mediation. At the New York City Hall rally, U.S. Soccer President Carlos Cordeiro responded to chants of “Equal pay!” from the crowd by saying the women “deserve fair and equitable pay. And together I believe we can get this done.”
Lawmakers also rallied to support the team this week. The New York State Legislature passed a bill making it illegal to pay someone less for a job based on characteristics including race, religion, disability, or gender identity. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, signed the legislation into law in Manhattan just before the start of Wednesday’s parade. In Washington, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., introduced a bill Tuesday that would bar federal funding for the men’s 2026 World Cup, some of which is scheduled to take place in the United States, until U.S. Soccer provides equal pay to the women’s team. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., who is running for the Democratic nomination for president in 2020, tweeted her support for the team last month, saying, “The @USWNT is #1 in the world & contributes higher revenues for @USSoccer than the men’s team.” PolitiFact looked into Warren’s revenue claim and the experts its fact-checkers consulted mostly agreed with it, but they noted there are “complicated variables.”
As for celebrations in the nation’s capital, the women’s team has accepted an invitation from Democratic leaders in Congress to visit the U.S. Capitol, but several team members have said they would decline an invite to the White House, if asked.
Forward Megan Rapinoe, who was named the 2019 World Cup’s most valuable player, continued to criticize President Donald Trump this week. Rapinoe, a lesbian and LGBT advocate known for blurting out obscenities in public, told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that Trump’s slogan “Make America Great Again” is “harking back to an era that wasn’t great for everyone. It might’ve been great for a few people.” Trump said two weeks ago that he would invite the team to the White House after the World Cup “win or lose,” but so far no official invitation has been extended. —Lynde Langdon