7 of this year's World Cup champions have ties to North Carolina

North Carolina had a large footprint in this year's Women's World Cup.

Four members of the US Women's National Team are also members of NC Courage, the Cary team in the National Women's Soccer League.

Abby Dahlkemper, Crystal Dunn, Jessica McDonald and Sam Mewis are expected to re-join the Courage early next week.

Dunn and McDonald also played their college soccer at UNC. Tobin Heath, Allie Long and Ashlyn Harris are the other Tar Heels that helped the USA win its second straight World Cup title,



When the job was finished Sunday, only congratulations came from Trump - for the entire team.

"Great and exciting play," he tweeted. "America is proud of you all!"



In the hours before the Americans won a fourth World Cup, Megan Rapinoe found an advocate for the pursuit of greater pay equality in the French president.

"We need to go progressively toward that," Macron said. "We should progressively converge."

SEE ALSO: Megan Rapinoe fuses politics, pay and tech with World Cup win

That is undermined by the prize money for the men's World Cup in 2022 jumping to $440 million when the women's teams will only split $60 million in 2023.

This time, it is only half that.

Victory gave the Americans $4 million - double the amount earned four years ago - as part of a $30 million prize pot but lagging the $38 million earned by France for lifting the men's trophy last July in Moscow.

On the eve of the final, sitting in the same news conference position occupied by Infantino a day earlier, Rapinoe rebuked the head of soccer's governing body for disrespecting women as the prize-money gulf widens with the winners of the men's World Cups.

Rapinoe chose not to confront Infantino on the field.

"There was a wry smile, for sure," she said. "He knows. He did say we'll have a conversation or something. I said, 'I'd love to.'"

Rapinoe has something to be thankful to Infantino for: the introduction of VAR, which has had a disruptive debut in women's soccer as referees and players have adjusted to the new technology.

"VAR wouldn't miss the final, she had to show up somewhere," Rapinoe said. "It has gotten a lot of stick in the tournament. There's some inconsistencies but this is the first time all these referees have actually used it. So overall I think it's been pretty good."

What has been less of a success were FIFA's efforts at attracting fans to some games.

FIFA knows it has to do more to raise attendance. The sellout crowd of 58,000 on Sunday was a rarity.

In a month when FIFA challenged the world to "Dare to Shine," efforts were dimmed by marketing mishaps around ticket promotions that saw swathes of empty seats in stadiums.

The choice of venue will be scrutinized more closely with FIFA now realizing going to stronger soccer cities - rather than Montpellier and Nice - could have produced fuller stadiums.

"A lot can be done to popularize our sport a bit more, like the men's World Cup is kind of seen as a destination even for those that aren't pure football fans," said Sarai Bareman, FIFA's head of women's soccer. "We need to do a lot more to promote the game to attract that kind of fan."

While the host for the 2026 men's World Cup was picked last year, FIFA has yet to pick the destination for its next women's showpiece and the decision could be delayed again.

The FIFA Council was due to make the pick in March but Infantino said Friday the bidding process might have to be re-opened after revealing plans to expand the tournament from 24 to 32 teams.

In a sign of soaring interest in the women's game, FIFA already has nine countries interested in hosting in 2023: Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Japan, New Zealand, South Africa and South Korea.

Rapinoe will be hoping players aren't still fighting over pay by then.

"Everyone's is kind of asking what's next and what we want to come of all this," she said. "It's to stop having the conversation about equal pay, are we worth it, the investment piece. ... It's time to kind of sit down with everyone and really get to work."
Copyright © 2019 ABC11-WTVD-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved - The Associated Press contributed to this report.