Amid confetti and chants of "equal pay," New York City honored the U.S. women's soccer team on Wednesday with a ticker-tape parade up the "Canyon of Heroes," celebrating its World Cup triumph and hailing the players' emergence as icons of women's rights.
The squad's 2-0 win over Netherlands in the final match on Sunday capped a World Cup campaign that attracted vast television audiences, reflecting the popularity of a U.S. soccer team that has dominated women's international competition, winning a record fourth title.
But Wednesday's parade up Broadway in New York's financial district was more than a tribute to a championship team.
It also cast a spotlight on the team's fight for equal pay with the U.S. men's national team, and by extension, the issue of equal pay for equal work for women in general.
Thousands of well-wishers pressed up against metal police barriers to catch a glimpse of star players like Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd and Megan Rapinoe, the tournament's top scorer and an outspoken team leader, as they rode on open floats along the parade route.
In March, all 28 players on the women's team filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation, demanding equal compensation with their male counterparts, who earn much higher base pay than their female counterparts.
"We stand with them in solidarity.
Equal pay for equal work," New York Governor Andrew Cuomo told a press conference at the start of the parade, after signing into law an equal pay bill passed by the New York State Legislature this year.
Despite the controversy, a party atmosphere dominated.
The good-natured crowd cheered as marching bands and women on motorcycles escorted the floats carrying the players, coaches and staff up Broadway to City Hall, a path dubbed "the Canyon of Heroes.
At the end of the parade, Mayor Bill de Blasio presented the team with ceremonial keys to the city.