The United States has won a record-extending fourth women's World Cup with a 2-0 victory over the Netherlands, and superstar Megan Rapinoe has used the opportunity to renew calls for improved pay and conditions for female players.
The United States won a record-extending fourth women’s World Cup with a 2-0 victory over the Netherlands on Sunday - with second-half goals from Megan Rapinoe and Rose Lavelle confirming their status as the leading power in the women’s game.
After scoring in the final, Rapinoe was handed the Golden Ball as the best player in France and the Golden Boot as the leading scorer.
And she used her already gigantic platform to double down on her role as American campaigner-in-chief, reviving her calls for improved pay and conditions for female players.
"Everyone is ready for this conversation to move to the next step," she said.
"We're done with 'Are we worth it. Should we have equal pay?'
"Everyone is done with that. Fans are done with that. Players are done with that. In a lot of ways, sponsors are done with that.
"Every player at this World Cup, we put on the most incredible show that you could ever ask for.
"We couldn't do anything more ... let's get to the next point."
A perfect occasion for Rapinoe, whose outspoken views have been prominent especially on the pay disparity between men and women players, was capped when FIFA chief Gianni Infantino was greeted with chants of “equal pay, equal pay” by American fans.
At 34, Rapinoe is unlikely to be back on this stage in four years’ time, but it is hard to imagine her walking away from the battles she has led with the US Soccer Federation and world governing body FIFA over fairer terms for the women’s game.
However, amidst the firework celebrations after the final whistle, Rapinoe’s thoughts were on her team’s triumph.
“It’s like history. I don’t know how to feel right now. It is ridiculous,” Rapinoe said.
“We’re crazy that’s what makes us special. We just have no quit in us. We are so tight. We will do anything to win.”
The defending champions struggled to gain dominance for an hour before a Rapinoe penalty, her sixth goal of the tournament, broke the deadlock and a fine individual effort from Lavelle in the 69th minute put the outcome beyond doubt.
The Dutch, who are the European champions, ran out of steam after Rapinoe opened the scoring in the 61st minute, having done more than any team to frustrate the Americans.
The pay disparity
FIFA has been criticised for awarding just 7.5 per cent of the prize money given at last year's men's World Cup to the competing teams at this Women's World Cup.
The organisation's president, Gianni Infantino, was roundly booed as he stepped up to award medals to the finalists, which gave way to loud chants for equal pay.
Rapinoe said Infantino could handle the embarrassment.
"A little public shame never hurt anybody, right? I'm down with the boos," she said.