On July 1999, after kicking the penalty shootout that would make the U.S. the 1999 FIFA World Cup Champion, Brandi Chastain celebrated by taking off her jersey and falling to her knees, exposing her sports bra for all to see. Though removing a jersey during a male soccer game is fairly common, Chastain’s moment of celebration created a media frenzy. In addition to writing about the U.S.’s incredible win, papers were covering Chastain’s physique and questioning whether her spontaneous move was encouraged by a Nike sponsor. Though there were many praises about her action being an influential one for women and young girls, others criticized the removal of her jersey as “lacking dignity,” illustrating the double standard that existed and still exists today for women in sports.
Until this moment, the sports bra remained a hidden piece of sports equipment that was rarely discussed or displayed by female athletes. The sports bra, however, is just as necessary as cleats or shin guards. Thanks to Chastain, the sports bra was recognized by hundreds of thousands of people gathered either around the T.V. or in the stadium to watch the game.
A year later, FIFA banned the removal of jerseys during goal celebrations and such an action is now penalized with a yellow card. Chastain’s spur of the moment removal of her jersey as well as her contribution to the U.S.’s incredible win inspired girls around the nation to take up soccer as a sport. The 1999 World Cup win has served and will continue to serve as a symbol of cultural change and of liberation for women for years to come.
Quotes on this Historic Moment
''It was casting off the burden of everything that kept us down and said, 'You can't do that because you are a woman.' It was a moment that screamed, 'Yes, I can.'" Marlene Bjornsrud, Former soccer coach
“I need to know what this feels like! This is what I want to do!” Becky Sauerbrunn, defender for the US Women’s National Soccer Team
“It captivated the country in a way that hadn’t been done in female sports, at least not in my lifetime.” Alex Morgan, striker for the US Women’s National Soccer Team
"This World Cup was a world-class, world-caliber, stand-alone event for women like none other." Marla Messing, CEO of the US organizing committee