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U.S. Takes A Record 4 Women's World Cup Titles

Jul 7, 2019
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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Well, they did it. The U.S. women proved once again they are the best in the world, defeating the Netherlands 2-0 in the Women's World Cup final today. The U.S. has now won the tournament a record four times. NPR's Eleanor Beardsley was at the final in Lyon, France, and she is with us now.

Hi, Eleanor.

ELEANOR BEARDSLEY, BYLINE: Hi, Michel.

MARTIN: Well, Eleanor, let me contain - or try to contain - my jealousy that you are there and I am not. But it was tense enough to watch from here. What was it like inside the stadium?

BEARDSLEY: Michel, it was amazing. I've been to some of the games during this past month, and they just built up and built up. And today, it was the buildup of a whole month of the tournament. The stadium was at a fevered pitch. There were 60,000 people. It was filled to capacity for, you know, these two teams. The U.S. has been like a well-oiled machine all month, just rolling through France, steamroller. And, you know, the Netherlands is No. 8, but they've been really scrappy. They won the European Championship last year. So this was a great game. The U.S. was a favorite team, but the Netherlands was good.

In the six previous games, the U.S. has scored within the first 12 minutes, so everyone was waiting for that. But it didn't happen. In fact, we didn't score, Michel, until the 62nd minute, into the second half. So people were just on tenterhooks. It was the most tense game that I've been to. And Megan Rapinoe scored then in a penalty kick. And then, seven minutes later, Rose Lavelle scored. And then by then, we had two goals to nil. The momentum was with us. The Dutch really defended their goal, but they couldn't score after that.

MARTIN: So talk about that run, if you would. I mean, this capped this really amazing month-long run for the U.S. Why was the U.S. so dominant?

BEARDSLEY: The U.S. is has so much talent. It's almost like two teams came to play. There was the team out on the field that played, and there was another one ready to go on the bench. You know, coach Jill Ellis played 21 out of the 23 players. Only the two, you know, backup goalies didn't play. We have so many talented players, and I think that speaks to the way the game is just so successful in the U.S. It's so supported. It has funding. And it's not really - doesn't have that depth in Europe. You know, the Europeans' teams have caught up, the rest of the world is catching up, but we're still really dominant.

MARTIN: To the question of funding, there was a moment after this game where fans were chanting equal pay, and that is a reference to the lawsuit that the women's team has filed against U.S. Soccer demanding pay at least comparable to the men's team, particularly given their success both on the pitch and in attracting supporters and fans. So do you have a sense that this is an issue that actually really resonated with the fans?

BEARDSLEY: Yes, it really does. You know, the women earn supposedly 30 million for this while the men in their World Cup got 400 million. It's just too big of a gap. People were chanting that here. You can hear it.

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Chanting) Equal pay, equal pay, equal pay...

BEARDSLEY: And then also what was really telling is when the president of FIFA came in, the entire stadium booed.

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Booing).

BEARDSLEY: People such as Mr. Kenneth Lloyd (ph), who I spoke to from Austin, Texas, who brought his family for the World Cup - they want the women to earn what they deserve. Listen to what he says.

KENNETH LLOYD: It should inspire the men, and it should inspire the United States to level - to pay these women what they deserve to be paid because they are the champions of the world more than one time.

BEARDSLEY: He brought his son and daughter out, and he said, you know, these women are phenomenal. They're doing an incredible job. Let's pay them.

MARTIN: That is NPR's Eleanor Beardsley in Lyon, France.

Eleanor, thank you so much.

BEARDSLEY: You're welcome, Michel. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.