Women's World Cup 2019

Americans win more than a Cup

Megan Rapinoe on board the US team bus after winning the World Cup yesterday. The American was awarded the Golden Boot, scoring six goals in France.
Megan Rapinoe on board the US team bus after winning the World Cup yesterday. The American was awarded the Golden Boot, scoring six goals in France.PHOTO: REUTERS

US' retention of trophy gives them bargaining power for equal pay with men

LYON • Throngs of people on Broadway. Marching bands carrying American flags. Thousands of scraps of confetti paper raining down on the procession below.

The United States women's football team, which claimed their fourth Women's World Cup title on Sunday after a 2-0 victory over the Netherlands, will be feted with a ticker-tape parade in Manhattan, New York tomorrow - only the second time a women's sports team has been bestowed the honour.

And, while Jill Ellis will revel in becoming the first coach to win the tournament twice, with the US only the second team to secure back-to-back trophies after Germany, she knows her top-ranked team cannot rest on their laurels after being pushed by their opponents.

The Dutch certainly came close as they became the first team to stop the US from scoring inside the first 12 minutes this tournament.

It was not until a 61st-minute Megan Rapinoe penalty, which was corroborated by the Video Assistant Referee (VAR), that the deadlock was broken, followed shortly by a fine solo strike from Rose Lavelle to make it a record 26 goals scored, and Ellis felt that "overall, we had the better of the game".

The British-born American, who is the most successful manager in the sport's history with 13 wins and just one draw across the last two editions of the Cup, said: "The level overall in the women's game is growing exponentially.

"Teams will want to continue to invest in the women's game. What does that do?

"It makes our job hard, but we also have had a commitment from our federation to grow our domestic league, because without leagues you can't exist as a national team.

"This was incredibly difficult. The teams we had to come through were some of the best in the world. In terms of the path and the level, this was pretty challenging.

"The past four or five months we prepared and were ready for every situation.

"That's why they handled it magnificently in this tournament."

  • 26

    Goals by the US - the most scored at a single Women' s World Cup.

  • 34

    Megan Rapinoe is the oldest scorer in a Women' s World Cup final at the age of 34 years and two months, beating the previous mark held by teammate Carli Lloyd at 32 years and 354 days.

However, Ellis, whose contract expires at the end of this month, refused to be drawn on whether she would continue with the all-conquering Americans as "right now it's about enjoying this moment".

She added: "We had to take this game one minute, one moment, one decision at a time. I don't think about anything in front of me, and just enjoy the celebration with my players."

With Sunday's triumph, the Americans have now won four of the eight Cups contested since 1991 and four of the six Olympic gold medals awarded since 1996.

But Sunday's victory was about far more than sports.

Three months before the tournament kicked off in Paris on June 7, the team sued their employer, the US Soccer Federation, for gender discrimination, citing wages and working conditions inferior to those of their less successful male counterparts.

Each goal and each victory they scored became a statement about their prowess on the field and their leverage off it and chants of "Equal pay!" rang out from the stands after their victory in Lyon.

Within seconds, the hashtag #EqualPay spiked five-fold on Twitter, according to a company official, while US President Donald Trump, former presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton as well as Hollywood actor Ryan Reynolds were among those quick to congratulate the team.

And co-captain Rapinoe felt that now was the time for "this conversation to move to the next step".

Said the Golden Boot and Golden Ball winner after ending her campaign with six goals: "We're done with, 'Are we worth it? Should we have equal pay? (Are) the (male and female) markets the same?'.

"Everyone is done with that. How do we support women's federations and women's programmes around the world?"

REUTERS, NY TIMES, WASHINGTON POST, XINHUA

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 09, 2019, with the headline 'Americans win more than a Cup'. Print Edition | Subscribe