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'Equal pay' Fight Resonates as New York Fetes US Women's Soccer Team

A fan displays a sign during the Women's World Cup Champions Parade in New York, July 10, 2019.
A fan displays a sign during the Women's World Cup Champions Parade in New York, July 10, 2019.

The U.S. women's soccer team, fresh from its second-consecutive World Cup victory over the weekend, will return to Manhattan's "Canyon of Heroes" on Wednesday to be honored by New Yorkers with a traditional ticker tape parade.

The squad's 2-0 win over Netherlands in the final match on Sunday capped a World Cup campaign that attracted huge television audiences and bestowed celebrity status on Megan Rapinoe, the tournament's top scorer and an outspoken team leader.

The victory also called attention to the team's fight for equal pay with their counterparts on the U.S. men's national team, and by extension, the issue of equal pay for equal work for women in general. In March, all 28 players on the women's team filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation, demanding their compensation equal that of their male counterparts.

"The level of interest and excitement is much higher from four years ago," said Jessica Lappin, president of the parade's organizers, Alliance of Downtown New York, referring to the 2015 parade for the team after its last World Cup victory. "That's partly because they're women's rights icons now." The lawsuit alleges that women players each earn a maximum of $99,000 total for a season, compared with an average of $263,320 for male players.

As Sunday's game came to a close in Lyon, France, the grandstands erupted with chants of "equal pay, equal pay."

Parade organizers said they expected to hear a similar sentiment expressed loudly by the tens of thousands of people expected to line the parade route on Wednesday.

The parade will travel up Broadway through the heart of Manhattan's financial district, from Battery Park to City Hall, a path dubbed "the Canyon of Heroes."

At the end of the route, Mayor Bill de Blasio and other politicians will pay tribute to the team, while some of the players are likely to address the crowd.

Past honorees have included John F. Kennedy after his nomination as Democratic presidential candidate; Neil Armstrong and other Apollo 11 astronauts after their mission to the moon; and Queen Elizabeth II. In recent decades, the city has hosted a much smaller number of parades and most of them have honored championship sports teams, including the New York Yankees and New York Giants.

Despite the name, today's "ticker tape" parades are missing the real stuff - the ubiquitous strips of paper that ran through stock tickers that once provided price quotes for Wall Street traders.

Instead of ticker tape, about a ton of confetti made from shredded paper, tossed from about 20 buildings, will rain down on the team as they ride in open vehicles up Broadway, according to the Alliance of Downtown New York. Unlike in years past, most of the office towers along the route lack windows that can open.

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