As their floats bounded up the Canyon of Heroes on Wednesday, Long Island natives Crystal Dunn and Allie Long could not help but notice messages from their fans, words that they already knew all too well.
Chants of "USA! Equal Pay!" were shouted while other spectators held up signs with similar sentiments.
"It was literally unbelievable," said Long, who hails from Northport.
"Supporting women and just seeing the amount of signs for equal pay, it just brought tears to my eyes. Thank God I had sunglasses on. I was really emotional."
Dunn, who grew up in Rockville Centre, was on the same float as Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who signed into law an "Equal Pay for Equal Work" bill for women minutes before the parade.
"He was chanting equal pay," she said. "It was incredible he was on the float with us. He was so supportive. He just showed how special us winning and what we stand for . . . for women across the world. It's important that people realize that yes, we play soccer for a living, but we're so much more. It's important that we make our statement very loud and clear and allow everybody to feel that they are unified with us and our team."
While preparing for the Women's World Cup, the U.S. team in March filed a discrimination suit against the U.S. Soccer Federation that seeks equitable pay and treatment in relation to the men's team, and in addition damages and back pay for the team. The U.S. women have won four world championships, the men none, and didn't even qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
"I feel that it's over the point of us trying to explain that we're worth it or we deserve it," Long said. "It's past it. Now it’s about action. We feel we deserve it. I do feel that we’re are at the tipping point of something. I can just feel it. I don't know exactly when that is. I'm hoping sooner than later. That's not up to me to decide. We just have to keep doing our part."
The women's battle is on two fronts.
Prior to the World Cup final, FIFA president Gianni Infantino announced that the women's prize money for the 2023 competition would be doubled to $60 million. That pales in comparison to the men, who will vie for $440 million in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
"That's the next step right there, to really get on FIFA to really wake up in a sense and realize that [raising the men], that's all well and good. What about the women's side?" Dunn said. "That is nothing compared to the prize money of the men. It's too late for this World Cup. For the next World Cup, we are hoping that a big change is made. There's no excuses. Things need to start be in motion now. This is the best time to do it. We hope those who are around for the next World Cup will reap the benefits of it."
There might be at least one more celebration left as more than 1,000 people have signed an online petition supporting a parade for Dunn in Rockville Centre.
"That would be obviously so incredible," Dunn said. "My schedule is so tight. I would try to make a way to get up to New York. We don't get a break. We're not the European leagues where you win a World Cup, you have a month off."
Dunn has been in Portland, Oregon, the last few days, spending time with husband Pierre Soubrier, the Portland Thorns head athletic trainer. She plans to return to her National Women's Soccer League team, the North Carolina Courage, this week.
"It's not like you can live it up for too long," she said with a laugh.