Many families lining the barricades for Wednesday’s World Cup ticker-tape parade didn’t appear in droves just for their love of soccer.
The heavy downpour of recycled ticker tape covering a near-mile stretch of lower Manhattan was born of New Yorkers’ raucous support for the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team, who won 2-0 against The Netherlands on Sunday during the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
To many in the audience, though, the team was also a 28-player force pushing the conversation on gender parity.
“I think that women deserve equal pay,” said 16-year-old Karla Duarte, of Woodside, Queens, who attended the parade with her mother Larissa Tejada. “Just because of their gender, they should not be paid less.”
Duarte and Tejada, 42, also attended the last ticker-tape parade in 2015, after the previous U.S. women’s soccer team snagged a World Cup victory.
The current team is suing the U.S. Soccer Federation in federal court for earnings equivalent to their male counterparts, which they claim is disproportionately higher.
"Despite the fact that these female and male players are called upon to perform the same job responsibilities on their teams and participate in international competitions for their single common employer, the USSF, the female players have been consistently paid less money than their male counterparts," the lawsuit says. "This is true even though their performance has been superior to that of the male players – with the female players, in contrast to male players, becoming world champions."
The women’s team has outearned the men’s team in terms of revenue, game wins, championships and the sheer size of its television audiences, the suit continues.
The team’s recent victory highlighted the cause for equal treatment and opportunity between men and women.
“I think it has the potential to change the global attitude toward women in athletics,” said Joanna DeVita, 39, of Brooklyn, as her children threw ticker tape from the parade into the air.
Madison Lenza, 10, who plays defense for a Red Bulls travel team, came to the parade from Staten Island with her mother, Christina, to celebrate her favorite player: Alex Morgan, co-captain and forward.
“She’s an amazing soccer player,” Madison said before offering her perspective on the pay dispute. “They should both be paid equally. There’s no difference, I don’t think.”
Griselia Polanco, 44, took her 8-year-old daughter Nour Soudani, of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn to show support for the team.
“She’s been complaining that there’s no female coaches at the school,” Polanco said of Nour, adding that there is one woman coach within the 43-school network to which her daughter’s charter school belongs.
Nour, who plays on her school’s soccer team, dubbed defender Crystal Dunn her personal inspiration.
"She was the only black person in her kindergarten soccer class,” she said. Nour hopes to play for a travel team someday.
Others at the parade couldn’t hold back their emotion when speaking about the significance of the win and the city’s support of their achievements.
“It’s so amazing that we get to see women really succeeding at a time that we really need it,” said Meghan Williams, 45, of Brooklyn, flanked by her 8-year-old sons as she fought back tears.