After years of hard work on and off the field, the U.S. Women’s National Team has taken home the 2019 FIFA World Cup after playing a beautifully composed match against the Netherlands, winning 2-0 on Sunday in Lyon, France. Their clean passing, camaraderie, and blazing shots on goal — especially against a formidable opponent like the Dutch — should dispel any doubts of the USWNT’s talent, confirming what their fans already know: that they deserve to command the attention of sports fans all around the world.
Midfielder Megan Rapinoe explained that the team’s success is due to the fact that they are “crazy,” with no intention of quitting until getting a victory. This drive is what earned the vet — at age 34, the oldest goal scorer in World Cup Final history — both the Golden Ball and Golden Boot awards after the conclusion of Sunday’s match. Despite some critics’ distaste of Rapinoe’s on-field celebrations after scoring any one of her six goals and her off-field comments expressing zero interest in paying a victory visit to the White House, she was as down-to-earth as always, giving credit to her teammates. “It’s unbelievable just to know all of the people in our group that put in so much work: the players, our friends and family are here, it’s surreal. I don’t know how to feel right now, it’s ridiculous.”
U.K.-born Jill Ellis also deserves recognition for becoming the first coach ever to win two Women’s World Cups in history, having led the U.S. team to a championship at the 2015 World Cup too. “This is just an amazing group of players but an even better group of people — fantastic resilience and chemistry,” she told reporters during a post-match interview. “They put their heart and soul into this journey, I can’t thank them enough, they’ve been fantastic.”
Upon clinching their victory at the end of the match, chants of “Equal pay!” could be heard among fans amid the celebration. Former USWNT player and 2015 FIFA World Player of the Year Abby Wambach explained to Time what many of us were feeling after the match. “We all just watched brilliant, brazen, united, joyful, unapologetic women – scoring, speaking out and celebrating on the world stage. Today, this team showed America what’s possible: no — they showed us what is INEVITABLE: women will lead us. And will win. And we won’t keep our mouths shut about inequality any longer. Now pay them.”
Tennis legend Billie Jean King, who was a key figure in advocating for equal pay in her sport, tweeted her support for the USWNT’s efforts to close the pay gap in women’s soccer. “These athletes have brought more attention, support and pride to women’s sport than perhaps any other team in history. It’s long past time to pay them what they rightly deserve.”
Winning the championship match itself earns each player $110,000 from U.S. Soccer, which is equivalent to the amount that players on the USMNT earn simply for qualifying for the World Cup. Including bonuses for winning qualification games and making it onto the roster, players on the USWNT can be paid $200,000 at most by U.S. Soccer according to calculations from The Guardian; their male counterparts, however, have the potential to make over $1 million. This disparity is sure to face even more public scrutiny now that the team has gotten their second consecutive World Cup in the bag.
Currently embroiled in a lawsuit alleging gender discrimination, the team is looking forward to their next victory in the courts. “Everyone is asking what’s next and what do we want to come from all of this, and it’s to stop having the conversation about equal pay and being asked, ‘Are we worth it?’” said Rapinoe in an interview with ESPN. “It should be, ‘What are we going to do about it? How do we continue to push this forward?'”