While the United States women’s national team celebrated their victory in the 2019 Women’s World Cup final, a fitting tribute was given to the team that lifted the trophy 20 years prior, as reported by People. On the same day that the 2019 champions paraded through New York City with a ticker-tape parade and a special ceremony at New York’s city hall, across the country in Pasadena, California, a statue was unveiled recreating one of the most iconic moments of the 1999 World Cup.
The statue is modeled on Brandi Chastain’s celebration after scoring the winning penalty in the final against China, tearing off her jersey and dropping to her knees in joy, creating one of the most well-known images in women’s sports.
Reflecting upon that 1999 team and the journey they took to World Cup victory, Chastain said, “The great thing about our team is that we believed that it could happen, and so we were working relentlessly on the field to be the best product, give a lot of entertainment value while striving for the success of winning the World Cup.”
With the obvious parallels between the 1999 and 2019 teams, Chastain went on to describe the similar struggles that she and her teammates faced while representing the United States 20 years ago. Chastain’s team was similarly under incredible pressure as the favorites entering the tournament, while also having to cope with critics who claimed that women’s soccer would never be able to replicate the revenue or viewership the men’s game achieved.
Chastain explained, “We were the caretakers of all of women’s soccer globally, like I say the future of women’s soccer. In all honestly it could have been that dire. For the U.S. not to advance to the final and not to win could have been disastrous for even what we’re doing for today.”
The iconic 1999 final drew the highest ever attendance for a women’s sporting event at the time, bringing 90,185 fans to the Rose Bowl. At home, 40 million people watched the final on television in the United States alone, creating a historic milestone for women’s sports.
Chastain made an appearance at the unveiling of the statue and spoke briefly, referencing Megan Rapinoe’s speech earlier in the day in front of the New York City Hall, while also calling on everyone to “be better.”
Rapinoe’s speech, as reported by Huffington Post, touted the diversity of the United States women’s national team, before encouraging all to take time to listen to others and come together.