NEW YORK —
Thousands of people turned out in New York City Friday to embrace the World Cup Champion U.S. Women’s football team, in the first ticker-tape parade honoring a female sports team.
Chants of "USA, USA" could be heard as the 23 team members and Coach Jill Ellis rolled through lower Manhattan's "Canyon of Heroes," where president's, astronauts, Albert Einstein, and sports champions have been honored.
The fact that this is the first women's sports team to be honored in this way was not lost on people in the crowd.
“It’s well deserved. The question is women’s team…come on…the guys get everything…we got to get something,” said a woman in attendance..
“I love women’s soccer. I love the U.S. national team. We saw the game. We love it and to be here,” a male fan of the team said.
The U.S. women's all-time leading goalscorer, Abby Wambach, gathered her teammates and they lifted the World Cup trophy on an outdoor stage.
"This will absolutely go down as one of, if not the best, things I've ever been a part of," Wambach said.
The parade ended at City Hall, where Mayor Bill de Blasio handed each player a symbolic key to the city.
"When they brought home that trophy, they also brought a message about the power of women," he said.
The U.S team defeated Japan 5-2 on Sunday in Vancouver, Canada, to win its first World Cup championship in 16 years.
With the huge turnout in New York Friday, and with the tremendous TV audience that watched the game, it’s clear that America doesn't care what shape or gender its champions come in -- especially if they are wrapped in red, white and blue.
One female fan at the parade said “I just heard from my friend that the championship women’s team got paid a fourth of what the losing men’s team got.”
U.S Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont is expected to introduce a resolution calling on football's governing body FIFA to immediately eliminate gender pay inequity between male and female athletes.
Some information for this report from Reuters.