The US women's football team infuriated the rest of the world with their notorious 'tea-drinking' celebration today as they paraded through the streets of New York to mark their World Cup victory.
Captain Megan Rapinoe was filmed drinking champagne and shouting 'I deserve this!' at the camera, while her team mate Alex Morgan appeared to ridicule the Lionesses with another show of her cruel 'tea-sipping' jibe.
The US team was branded 'smug', 'cocky', and 'distasteful' after they pretended to sip cups of tea after knocking England out of the tournament at the semi-finals in Lyon.
Social media erupted with fresh fury over the US team's behaviour today, with critic Piers Morgan claiming the players were 'unbearable', while England fans and others around the world branded them 'disgraceful', 'classless' and 'arrogant'.
SCROLL DOWN FOR VIDEOS
US player Alex Morgan celebrates her team's world cup victory with their notorious 'tea drinking' celebration, to the great annoyance of the England team and the rest of the world, as they parade through New York City today
Players Megan Rapinoe (left) and Alex Morgan (second right) are pictured doing the 'tea drinking celebration' at their victory ceremony at New York's City Hall
Alex Morgan mimes sipping some tea - a reference to a goal celebration she made during the semifinal win over England
Their victory rally turned political this afternoon as the players used their podiums to demand equal pay with their male counterparts.
Rapinoe – one of the players involved in the ongoing wage discrimination lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation – became so overwhelmed with the support she and her teammates received, the 34-year-old cried out: 'New York City, you're the mother***ing best!'
Moments earlier, she refused to sing the national anthem along with her teammates or place her hand over her heart.
The 34-year-old star had refused to do either during the World Cup and in previous years, she knelt during the anthem in solidarity with former NFL quarterback-turned social activist Colin Kaepernick, who first started the protests in 2016 to address inequality and racist police brutality.
Megan Rapinoe, center, and Alex Morgan, right, celebrate amid a flurry of confetti falling down on City Hall
Rapinoe and her teammates were also heard chanting 'USA, equal pay!' on one of the parade buses as fans held signs supporting their effort.
The U.S. women will get bonuses about five times less from the U.S.S.F. - $250,000 per player - than the men would have earned for winning the World Cup. And according to a recent Wall Street Journal report, the U.S. women's team generated more revenue in the three years immediately following its 2015 victory than the men's team did. The case is currently in mediation.
The team won its fourth World Cup by beating the Netherlands, 2-0, in Sunday's final in Lyon, France. And for the win, the players split $4 million in bonus money from FIFA compared to the $38 million the French men split for winning the 2018 World CUP.
Sunday's victory only amplified demands to pay women's team players equally with the U.S. men, as both Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo offered solutions to the problem.
The U.S. women's soccer team celebrates at City Hall after a ticker tape parade, Wednesday
Wednesday's ticker tape parade had to make due to with confetti made from recycled paper
De Blasio, a presidential candidate, told CNN before the parade that he would call for Congress to pass an amendment within the Amateur Sports Act 'requiring equal pay for men and women in all of our national sports teams.'
Failing that, De Blasio said, he would use an executive order 'to force' the U.S. Soccer Federation to pay its female players equally with the men.
Earlier Wednesday, Cuomo, a fellow Democrat, signed a law expanding gender pay equality in the state. He said women's soccer players should be paid the same as male players.
U.S. Senator 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.
Before the players received the key to the city on Wednesday, U.S.S.F. chairman Carlos Cordeiro took the podium and addressed the crowd at City Hall as many parade-goers flooded around the space to listen.
He even suggested that the two sides could quickly come to a resolution in the matter.
U.S. soccer captain Megan Rapinoe (left) did not sing the national anthem or place her hand over her heart along with her teammates. The 34-year-old star refused to do either during the World Cup and in previous years, she knelt during the anthem in solidarity with former NFL quarterback-turned social activist Colin Kaepernick, who first started the protests in 2016 to address inequality and racist police brutality
Megan Rapinoe of the United States Women's National Soccer Team receives the key to the city from Mayor Bill de Blasio at a ceremony at City Hall on Wednesday. De Blasio is one of many politicians supporting the players' effort for equal pay
Fans cheer as members of the World Cup-winning US women's soccer team take part in a ticker tape parade
England-born U.S. women's soccer coach Jill Ellis shakes hands with Mayor Bill de Blasio after Wednesday's post-parade rally
At first, Cordeiro's speech seemed conciliatory, as if he was agreeing to the players' demands for equal pay and equal support, such as promotion, travel, and training accommodations.
'To the Women's national team and the millions who support them, in recent months, you have raised your voices for equality,' Cordeiro said. 'Today, on behalf of all of us at U.S. Soccer, I want to say: We hear you. We believe in you. And we are committed to doing right by you.'
Then Cordeiro drew the ire of the crowd by congratulating the U.S. Soccer Federation for spending more on women's soccer 'than any country in the world.'
At this point, Cordeiro had to stop speaking because he could not be heard over the chants of 'equal pay!' from the crowd.
'We will continue to invest more in women's soccer than any country in the world and we will continue to encourage others - including our friends at FIFA - to do the same,' Cordeiro said, quieting the crowd slightly.
It was then that Cordeiro elicited an enormous round of applause by declaring: 'We believe at U.S. soccer that all female athletes deserve fair and equitable pay.'
Megan Rapinoe and her U.S. women's soccer teammates raise the World Cup trophy at New York's City Hall
The ticker tape parade started at Battery Park and went north along Broadway to City Hall, where the team was honored by Mayor Bill de Blasio.
The city's first ticker tape parade was held in 1886, when Wall Street workers spontaneously threw ticker tape out of their office windows to celebrate the unveiling of the Statue of Liberty.
The last ticker tape parade was held in July 2015 after the U.S. women' national team defeated Japan, 5-2, to win the World Cup.
Despite the name, today's 'ticker tape' parades are missing the ubiquitous strips of paper that ran through stock tickers in earlier years.
Instead of ticker tape, about one ton of confetti made from shredded paper, tossed from about 20 buildings, will rain down on the team as they ride in open vehicles up Broadway, according to the Alliance of Downtown New York. Unlike in years past, most of the office towers along the route lack windows that can open.
At the rally, Rapinoe noted the diversity of the team: 'We have pink hair and purple hair, we have tattoos and dreadlocks, we have white girls and black girls and everything in between. Straight girls and gay girls.'
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, already drifting down from office buildings before Wednesday's parade started.
The Department of Sanitation said it will have 350 workers assigned 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.
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.'
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.
U.S. soccer captain Megan Rapinoe poses with New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and his wife during a post-parade rally
Dykes on Bikes, the lesbian motorcycle club, got the parade going by leading buses carrying the players out onto Broadway in New York's Financial District.
The women rode their bikes with signs reading 'imagine equality' on the handle bars - a reference to the team's quest for equal pay with their male counterparts.
Now, after two days of the team's celebratory media tour, tens of thousands of fans are lining the streets of Lower Manhattan, where everyone from sports heroes to U.S. astronauts have been celebrated.
Roaring fans lined the same route four years ago to cheer on the U.S. women's soccer team after its 2015 2015 World Cup win.
Wednesday, floats and an open-top bus brought the team along the route, which ran from Battery Park up Broadway before finally arriving at City Hall for a ceremony hosted by the Mayor.
And like the bikers, De Blasio also made calls for equal play as the crowd emphatically agreed.
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.'
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.
Captain Megan Rapinoe and the U.S. Women's National Team celebrate during the Women's World Cup championship parade
Young fans line the street during Wednesday's ticker tape parade in Lower Manhattan
Alex Morgan (left), Julie Ertz (center) and Megan Rapinoe (right) share a bottle of champagne during Wednesday's parade
Fans react as the U.S. women's soccer team approaches during Wednesday's parade in New York's Financial District
Dykes on Bikes, the lesbian motorcycle club, got the parade going by leading the buses carrying the players out onto Broadway in New York's Financial District. The women rode their bikes with signs reading 'imagine equality' on the handle bars - a reference to the team's quest for equal pay to their male counterparts
Fans call out for U.S. women's soccer team players at the corner of Cedar St. and Broadway during the ticker tape parade
Megan Rapinoe, Alyssa Naeher, Allie Long and Becky Sauerbrunn of the U.S. with the trophy during the parade
Megan Rapinoe (R) NY Mayor Bill de Blasio, his wife(L) and other members of the World Cup-winning US women's team take part in a ticker tape parade for the women's World Cup champions. De Blasio made calls for equal pay on Wednesday
Play Like A Girl: U.S. women's soccer team fans packed Lower Manhattan to honor the four-time World Cup champs
After striking a similar pose after scoring in the quarterfinal win over France, Megan Rapinoe made her famous stance once again on Wednesday during the ticker tape parade
Megan Rapinoe and Ashlyn Harris pose for pictures during Wednesday's parade in Lower Manhattan
A shot of New York's Financial District, where the 2019 U.S. women's soccer team is being honored for its World Cup victory
An Ali Krieger fan urges the U.S. Soccer Federation to pay its female athletes equally, while pointing out that the U.S. women have four World Cup titles. Meanwhile, the U.S. men failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia
Construction workers in Lower Manhattan look on as the U.S. women's soccer team are honored for their World Cup win
Prior to the parade, Rapinoe addressed the U.S. Soccer staff, thanking them for their hard work throughout the tournament.
'Everyone who helped make this incredible ride possible,' Rapinoe's champagne toast began, 'it's probably bigger than this room, but this is ground zero of it all: Thank you from all of the players. We couldn't do it without you.'
Then Rapinoe added: 'Let's f***ing celebrate!'
In the absence of actual ticker tape, a relic from a previous era, recycled confetti rained down on players and fans below from about 20 buildings along the route.
In total, about one ton of confetti was made for Wednesday's parade.
ABC 'Good Morning America' host Robin Roberts was chosen to serve as M.C. for the post-parade rally.
Wednesday's ticker-tape fiesta is just the first stop on a protracted victory lap that will send the team across the United States in the coming months.
After the New York celebration, the players will jet off to California to appear at the ESPYS, the US sports world's equivalent of the Oscars, taking place in Los Angeles later on Wednesday.
The team will then be back on the road next month to play in a five-game series of friendly international matches billed as a 'Victory Tour,' starting with a clash against Ireland at the Pasadena Rose Bowl on August 3.
With Crowds chanting 'USA!' De Blasio was seen riding a float along with Morgan and several other players.
Although the heat index was approaching 90 degrees, the Mayor opted to wear a red 'Team USA' scarf during the parade.
Most of the players are seen wearing their World Cup medals, while Rapinoe, the captain, has been primarily responsible for the