'I just want to be like them': Fans fete World Cup champs

NEW YORK (AP) — Adoring fans packed New York City's Canyon of Heroes on Wednesday amid a blizzard of confetti to praise the World Cup-winning U.S. women's national soccer team as athletic leaders on the field — and as advocates for pay equity off it.

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Megan Rapinoe holds the Women's World Cup trophy as the U.S. women's soccer team is celebrated with a parade along the Canyon of Heroes, Wednesday, July 10, 2019, in New York. The U.S. national team beat the Netherlands 2-0 to capture a record fourth Women's World Cup title. Wednesday, July 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)


Crowds chanted "USA! USA!" and workers sounded air horns from a construction site as the hourlong parade moved up a stretch of lower Broadway that has long hosted so-called ticker tape parades for world leaders, veterans and hometown sports stars.

Co-captain Megan Rapinoe and her teammates shared a float with Mayor Bill de Blasio and U.S. Soccer Federation president Carlos Cordeiro. Rapinoe struck her now-famous victory pose, took a swig of Champagne and handed the bottle to a fan. Goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher held the World Cup trophy aloft.

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A float with members of the U.S. women's soccer team and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, rear, makes its way up Broadway in a ticker tape parade along the Canyon of Heroes, Wednesday, July 10, 2019, in New York. The U.S. national team beat the Netherlands 2-0 to capture a record fourth Women's World Cup title. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)


Aly Hoover, 12, of Glen Ridge, New Jersey, stood at the sidelines with a poster of the face of Alex Morgan, another team star. "I just want to be like them," she said.

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Fans celebrates as members of the the U.S. women's soccer team pass by during a ticker tape parade along the Canyon of Heroes, Wednesday, July 10, 2019, in New York. The U.S. national team beat the Netherlands 2-0 to capture a record fourth Women's World Cup title.(AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)


Garret Prather brought his newborn son "to celebrate how the American women made us proud on and off the field."

The team sealed its second consecutive tournament win by beating the Netherlands 2-0 on Sunday. It will get $4 million for winning the World Cup from FIFA, the international soccer governing body. The men's French team got $38 million for winning last year.

The U.S. women's team has sued the U.S. Soccer Federation for gender and pay discrimination. The federation will give the women bonuses about five times smaller than what the men would have earned for winning the World Cup. The case is currently in mediation.

Kate Lane, who watched the parade, called the pay gap "massive" for the soccer players and "across the board" for most women.

"Especially in male-dominated professions," said Lane, of Limerick, Ireland. "Women put just as much commitment into their work as their male counterparts."

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Girls in soccer jerseys wait for the arrival of the U.S. women's soccer team at City Hall, after a ticker tape parade Wednesday, July 10, 2019, in New York. The U.S. national team beat the Netherlands 2-0 to capture a record fourth Women's World Cup title. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)


She's hopeful the younger generation is soaking up the message from the women's team, noting a girl about 7 years old wearing an "Equal Pay" T-shirt.

Earlier Wednesday, team members joined New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, as he signed a bill expanding gender pay equality in the state. He said women's soccer players should be paid the same as male players.

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The U.S. women's soccer team, Megan Rapinoe center, celebrates at City Hall after a ticker tape parade, Wednesday, July 10, 2019, in New York. The U.S. national team beat the Netherlands 2-0 to capture a record fourth Women's World Cup title. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)


U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat, introduced a bill Tuesday that would bar federal funding for the men's 2026 World Cup until the U.S. Soccer Federation provides equal pay to the women's and men's teams.

At a City Hall rally after the parade, de Blasio, also a Democrat, honored the team with symbolic keys to the city, saying it "brought us together" and "showed us so much to make us hopeful."

After chants for "Equal pay!" from the crowd, Cordeiro said women "deserve fair and equitable pay. And together I believe we can get this done."

At the rally, Rapinoe noted the diversity of the team: "We have pink hair and purple hair, we have tattoos and dreadlocks, we got white girls and black girls and everything in between. Straight girls and gay girls."

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The U.S. women's soccer team member Jessica McDonald flexes during a celebration at City Hall after a ticker tape parade, Wednesday, July 10, 2019, in New York. The U.S. national team beat the Netherlands 2-0 to capture a record fourth Women's World Cup title. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)


The parade is named for the strands of ticker tape that used to be showered down from nearby office buildings. The tape has since been replaced with paper confetti, which drifted down from office buildings throughout Wednesday's parade, along with documents and spreadsheets folded into paper airplanes.

The Department of Sanitation said it has assigned 350 workers to parade cleanup, with trucks, backpack blowers and brooms at their disposal.

The team had already started celebrating its record fourth Women's World Cup title. After touching down at Newark Liberty International Airport on Monday, players shared a toast and sang "We Are the Champions."

Team members appeared on ABC's "Good Morning America" in Times Square on Tuesday to show off their trophy and answer questions from cheering kids.

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Fans celebrates as members of the the U.S. women's soccer team pass by during a ticker tape parade along the Canyon of Heroes, Wednesday, July 10, 2019, in New York. The U.S. national team beat the Netherlands 2-0 to capture a record fourth Women's World Cup title.(AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)


Rapinoe, the outspoken star who won the awards for the tournament's best player and top scorer, also appeared on CNN and MSNBC later Tuesday.

Rapinoe told CNN's Anderson Cooper that Republican President Donald Trump's slogan "Make America Great Again" is "harking back to an era that wasn't great for everyone. It might've been great for a few people."

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U.S. women's soccer player Megan Rapinoe celebrates with the FIFA Women's World Cup trophy at City Hall after a ticker tape parade, Wednesday, July 10, 2019 in New York. The U.S. national team beat the Netherlands 2-0 to capture a record fourth Women's World Cup title. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)


Rapinoe told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow that Trump had yet to invite the women's soccer team to the White House.

Trump had tweeted that he would invite the team, win or lose. Rapinoe has said she wouldn't be going to the White House. The team has accepted an invitation to visit Congress.

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Associated Press writers Melissa Murphy and David Bauder contributed to this report.