Why The U.S.’s Women’s World Cup Win Is So Important

In the 61st minute of the FIFA Women’s World Cup Final versus Netherlands, star-attacker Megan Rapinoe - purple hair and all- slotted her penalty kick past goalkeeper Sari Van Veenendaal to give the United States a late 1-0 lead in the second half. Eight minutes later, young breakout star Rose Lavelle would score the U.S.’s second goal of the game and her third goal of the tournament. 

 

While the team would go on to raise the Winner’s Trophy, along with Rapinoe’s golden ball and boot and Lavelle’s bronze ball; this tournament was about much more than those trophies. 

 

Four years ago, twenty-year-old Rose Lavelle sat watching the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup final between the United States and Japan in a pizza shop with her teammates. She never could have imagined that just four years later she would be the second youngest player to score in a WWC final. 

 

But this is what the U.S Women’s National Team has always stood for; inspiring the next generation of women to be even better than the last. On and off the field. 

 

In March, 28 players of the 2015 women’s team, including forward Alex Morgan and Rapinoe, sued the U.S. Soccer Federation for institutionalized gender discrimination claiming it was in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 

 

Related: Everything That You Need To Know About the USWNT Equal Pay Lawsuit 

 

Their lawsuit demanded not only equal pay, but equal respect. 

 

A team that has won now four World Cup titles, that is the most successful international women’s soccer team, and has smashed countless records deserves as much. 

 

Throughout the tournament, this team has proven time and time again that they do, not just in FIFA sponsored World Cups, but from their own soccer federation. 

 

While many may not have been paying attention to the team’s fight against gender discrimination before, this World Cup finally made people listen. This team’s passion and dedication is, after all, impossible to ignore. 

Via Benoit Tessier on Reuters

 

A few days before the final game, fifty members of Congress wrote a letter to the USSF to share their disapproval with the “inequities in pay, publicity, and investment that the U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT) has continued to endure.” At the end of their letter, the members requested responses to multiple questions about what the USSF plans to do to address the embarrassing mistreatment of its female players. 

 

And, seconds after the final whistle blew at the WWC finals, as FIFA president Gianni Infantino walked onto the field, the thousands of American fans packing the Stade de Lyon began chanting “equal pay,” reminding FIFA of the continued gender discrimination occurring in the organization.

 

The New York Times reported that the prize money for the USWNT’s 2019 FIFA WWC win was $30 million, not even a quarter of the $400 million prize awarded in the 2018 Men’s World Cup. 

 

While Infantino has proposed doubling the prize money for the next WWC, this amount would still be barely comparable to the money awarded to the men’s winner. However, his proposal and others like it are intended to improve the WWC and are the first steps in the right direction. 

 

Back at home, the team’s lawsuit against the USSF will head into mediation, despite the USSF’s original denial of the team’s claims of gender discrimination. With the Winner’s Trophy in hand and the backing of America, the USWNT will continue to strive for their goal of closing the pay gap in U.S. soccer, as well as improving conditions for female players. 

 

“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,” stated former USWNT teammate and advocate, Abby Wambach, “Now pay them.”

 

The world was watching on July 7th and these players didn’t just get a win for women’s soccer, but for women’s equality. 

 

“To be able to couple it with everything off the field and to back up those words with performances, it