Some 25 million people watched the US Women's National Soccer team defeat Japan 5-2 and win the FIFA World Cup on July 5th. And judging from the crowds cheering the team in Lower Manhattan today, a large contingent of girls in ponytails and soccer jerseys were thrilled by the game, enough to make a sizable showing at New York City's ticker-tape parade for the team today.
The last time women were honored exclusively in a ticker-tape parade, Dwight Eisenhower was president. That was 55 years ago, and for an Olympic figure skater. Today's parade was the first to honor a women's team in the US. Thousands lined the parade route from Battery Park to City Hall, while hundreds more tossed confetti and, yes, toilet paper from those skyscraper windows that can still be opened.
"You had the strength, you had the grit, you had the speed to make it to the championship," New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told the team as he handed them the keys to the city in a ceremony following the parade.
Argentinian Nicolas Gonzalez was among the men who came out to cheer on the team. He says he admires the game as women play it. "They have better tactics," he says. "They put more effort in the game — the men don't."
But the day really seemed to belong to hundreds of girls who came from miles around with their soccer coaches and parents, waiting hours along the parade route for a glimpse of their heroines. Eleven-year-old Erin Mitchell came with two other members of her team, the Floral Park Shamrocks.
"I was like, screaming, when they scored the first goal," her teammate Logan McCann says of the final World Cup match.
Erin plays defense but sees a role model in the national team's Ali Krieger. "I want to be a soccer player when I grow up," she declares.
All the attention on the Women’s World Cup victory has also shed light on serious gender and pay equity issues within FIFA and women’s professional sports, in general. Stats show that Germany’s Men’s National team members earned $35 million for their World Cup win last year compared to $2 million the US Women’s National team members netted for their win this year.
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