Sports Illustrated continues its landmark support of US Women’s soccer with another sensational series of covers. In the aftermath of an emotional victory over Japan in the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, the popular periodical has released an unprecedented 25 variant covers. Of note, one cover features several teammates together, while there are 24 covers for each of the players on the team, plus head coach Jill Ellis.
In addition to snapping their 16-year long championship drought, they also became the first country to capture three FIFA Women’s World Cup championships. After suffering an emotional loss to Japan in the final back in 2011, Carli Lloyd proved to be the difference maker as her hat trick contributed to a 5-2 victory in Vancouver.
Although Sports Illustrated has issued variant covers, there has never been anything of this magnitude. Prior to the FIFA Women’s World Cup, Sports Illustrated had four unique covers featuring US soccer stars. In addition, there was a fifth cover exclusive for subscribers.
To honor that achievement, Sports Illustrated has come up with a one-of-a-kind cover shoot. Instead of one cover to honor the 23 players and coach Jill Ellis, one for each of them. From Golden Ball winner Carli Lloyd to veteran stalwarts Abby Wambach and Megan Rapinoe to backup goalkeepers Alyssa Naeher and Ashlyn Harris, each member of the World Cup-winning squad, posing with the World Cup trophy, has her own cover as part of a unique set.
In addition, Sports Illustrated featured a special edition championship cover (with a gold border) that was only available online. With the US team featuring so many recognizable names, the cover innovation was an ideal way to not only recognize every member of the team, but showcase the growing influence of women in sport.
Originally, the plan was to photograph all the players in Los Angeles on July 7. Simon Bruty, the photographer who had worked on the World Cup final was scheduled to do it. As he was heading home to Washington, the plan could not be executed on that day. With the entire team in New York City for a victory parade later in the week, it was a serendipitous moment. As every member of the roster agreed to participate in a photo shoot before and after the parade, the result was a historic series of covers that fans will likely cherish for years to come.