New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office announced on Tuesday that the city will be honoring the United States women’s national soccer team with a ticker-tape parade, making them the first women’s sports team in history to receive the honor. After making history on Sunday with a decisive 5-2 victory in the FIFA Women’s World Cup final in Vancouver, becoming the only women’s soccer team to win three World Cup Championships, there was a massive push by the public in support of the parade. It will kick off at 11 a.m. on Friday, beginning at the Battery in lower Manhattan and heading up the Canyon of Heroes to a ceremony at City Hall.
The USWNT has done amazing thing for women’s soccer, generating an interest and forcing people to pay attention with their amazing play on the field and their myriad engaging personalities off of it. Sunday’s final match was the most-watched soccer game in United States history, male or female. That is huge, as there is still a great disparity between the respect granted to the women’s game and the men’s game. For example, FIFA forced the women to play on artificial turf the entire tournament, despite opposition from many of the teams. No World Cup had ever been played on turf before, and it is safe to say that no men’s team would ever be forced to do so. Similarly, the U.S. women received a $2m cash prize from FIFA for their victory. The cash prize for the German men’s team, who won the World Cup in Brazil last year? $35 million. So despite the groundbreaking work these women have done, there is still a long way to go. Granting them the well-deserved honor of a ticker-tape parade is certainly a step in the right direction.
The USWNT has paved new ground for the sport of women’s soccer in more ways than one. Their acceptance and respect for the diversity within their own team has been incredible to see. They were the most publicly out team at the World Cup, with three players (Megan Rapinoe, Abby Wambach and Ali Krieger) and one head coach (Jill Ellis) having come out publicly. In one of the most touching and historic moment of the tournament, Wambach, a legend who finally became a champion in the last World Cup of her career, ran to the stands after the final whistle sounded on Sunday and shared a beautiful moment with her wife Sarah Huffman that included a kiss for the world to see. Times are changing, and the women on this team have done a great deal to help further that change, with their kick-butt, unapologetic way of getting things done, on and off the field. That certainly calls for a celebration. We’ll be there on Friday. You should be too.