By Mahita Gajanan
July 10, 2019

When U.S. Soccer President Carlos Cordeiro was drowned out by hecklers as he spoked at Wednesday’s victory parade to celebrate the U.S. women’s national soccer team’s World Cup win, Megan Rapinoe came to his defense. She poked fun of him, as well.

The pay disparity faced by the athletes on the U.S. women’s national soccer team came into scrutiny this year after team members filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation in March, alleging that they receive a fraction of the pay that male soccer players get, even though the women fare better—exemplified by their recent championship win.

Cordeiro acknowledged the struggle in a speech. “In recent months, you’ve raised your voices for equality,” he said to loud, affirming cheers. “Today, on behalf of all of us at U.S. Soccer, I want to say, we hear you, we believe in you, and we’re committed to doing right by you.”

The big interruption came as Cordeiro continued. “Over the years, from our development programs to our youth national teams to our professional leagues, the NWSL, to our women’s national team, U.S. Soccer has invested more in women’s soccer than any country in the world. And we will continue to invest-” he said, before loud chants of “equal pay” put him on a brief pause.

Cordeiro was also called out for flubbing team co-captain Megan Rapinoe’s name during his speech while discussing notable accolades from the tournament. When he mentioned Rapinoe, he pronounced it as “RAP-in-o” rather than the correct “Ra-PINO.”

 

Rapinoe herself seemed unbothered about the name mix-up when she took the mic later on in the ceremony, and supported Cordeiro when she talked about the pay disparity issue. After teasing him slightly for getting interrupted with chants — “Everybody in the position of power gets booed” — Rapinoe said she was going to endorse Cordeiro.

“I think he’s with us. I think he’s on the right side of things. I think he’s going to make things right,” she said.

On Wednesday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that he had signed new pay equity legislation. The legislation, which requires equal pay for “substantially similar work,” aims to eliminate the gender wage gap and bans employers from differentiating on the basis of race, age, gender identity, sexual orientation and others who fall under protected class. Cuomo signed the legislation at the parade as the U.S. women’s team has pushed for equal pay in recent months.

 

Write to Mahita Gajanan at mahita.gajanan@time.com.

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