Following the U.S. Women’s National Team’s beautiful victory over the Netherlands in Sunday (July 7)’s World Cup final, Nike released a one-minute ad that pays tribute to the soccer champions while touting a message of empowerment for women and girls in sports.
The commercial is made up of images of athletes like Alex Morgan, Alyssa Naeher, and Tobin Heath, who just helped the U.S. cinch its fourth women’s World Cup win in a row. The ad features a single voice leading a crowd in the well-known “I Believe That We Will Win” sporting chant. However, the narration starts to trail into a different direction and settles into a powerful affirmation about just how historic the current team is—and how they’ve been working to change the course of history for other women.
“I believe that we will be four-time champions and keep winning until we not only become the best female soccer team, but the best soccer team in the world,” the voiceover declares. “I believe that we will be four-time champions and keep winning until we not only become the best female soccer team, but the best soccer team in the world, and that a whole generation of girls and boys will go out and play and say things like, ‘I want to be like Megan Rapinoe when I grow up,’ and that they’ll be inspired to talk and win and stand up for themselves.”
The ad coincides with not just the women’s impressive victory but also with the fight the team has led for equal pay. Several members of the team first filed a complaint with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission in 2016, pointing out that they were paid less than their male counterparts on the U.S. Men’s National Team (who had consistently lost games at the time).
Although they signed a collective bargaining agreement that helped boost how much they made, the athletes have continued striving for a more equitable paycheck. In 2019, they officially sued the U.S. Soccer Federation and accused the institution of gender discrimination.
While any form of corporate feminism deserves critical inspection (especially as Nike deals with claims of pregnancy discrimination), the company’s ad does nod to the team’s equal pay lawsuit, and a quote at the end reflects the message that the women’s team has been pushing this entire time as they try to change massive institutional gender disparities.
“I believe that we will make our voices heard, and TV shows will be talking about us every single day and not just once every four years… And that we will keep fighting not just to make history, but to change it forever,” the ad continues. “This team wins. Everyone wins.”