Silly Reporting Distracts Everyone from Sports’ Problem with Women Athletes

This article happened in The Guardian today “Tension in the NWSL: can the league and players live together in harmony?”. The title alone is all wrong, but the whole thing completely misses the point! Women must fight for every dollar, field, broadcast and right to play sports. If the U.S. WNT, the #1 ranked soccer team in a deep field of women’s teams, find it hard to achieve equality can you even imagine how difficult it is for lesser ranked, barely funded women’s teams in other parts of the world? (See: Gender Discrimination in Soccer: U.S. WNT Stands Up for Itself, Again).

Harmony only benefits the status quo, harmony does not = justice, harmony cannot be the norm when women are still playing on turf fields. Earlier this year, the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) “increased its minimum salary from $6,842 in 2015 to $7,200 in 2016. The league’s maximum salary — which applied to both domestic and international players outside of those whose salaries are subsidized by a federation — increased from $37,800 to $39,700” (The Equalizer, April 1 2016). Do these numbers astound you? They astound me. This chart, by The Atlas, will astound you even more: Minimum salaries for professional US sports players.

The numbers truly speak for themselves. The double standard is glaringly apparent. And the main concern in the above mentioned The Guardian article is if NWSL players should be using twitter or not to voice their concerns? Yowsa. Move over and be quiet buddy.

Many years ago The Walrus did an enlightening article about Christine Sinclair: “The Game Not Played – Christine Sinclair, the greatest female soccer player in the world, won’t get the career she deserves”. While some may take issue with the writer skirting around Sinclair’s sexual orientation, the article in and of itself makes the most important point, which is that she will not get the career she deserves because of sexism (and the slow investment in women’s soccer in Canada).

I will leave you with one final thing in this post, which is brought to you by SB Nation: “NWSL has survived longer than any other women’s soccer league. When do players get paid? – The ever-elusive fourth year has arrived. NWSL’s players have done their part in helping the league establish itself and start growing. Now they wait for a living wage.”  This is an article done right. It gives context, it gives hard data, it provides the issues, and it leaves no doubt that the system is not set-up to see women athletes truly succeed and be properly compensated for their dedication, talent and contribution to soccer and sports in general.

It, obviously, aggravates me to no end when mainstream media frame the issues in such a superficial, silly and lazy way. Here’s hoping articles like these become non-existent.

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Women’s World Cup: Semi-Finals

Once all the group stage games had been played, you could trace all match-up possibilities moving forward, which meant that there would be no Germany vs USA final, no France vs USA final, etc. Japan wouldn’t have to play any of these three teams in a semi-final game, and Canada (if they had made it past the quarter-finals) would have had a shot at a top three finish. I was really hoping for a France vs Japan final – that would have been electric. However, the USA vs Japan final will also be dynamite. Did you know the US WNT hasn’t won a World Cup since 1999?

The semi-final games delivered in terms of excitement and quality. The key moments during USA vs Germany were: Nadine Angerer’s first half saves in the box; Célia Šašic’s penalty kick miss, and Kelly O’Hara’s game-clinching second goal to put USA through to the finals. Japan vs England moments, on the other hand, were completely overshadowed by Laura Bassett’s own goal, which came at the worst, most disastrous moment in the game: 1 minute left in stoppage time, 2nd half.

Today, the Lionesses face Germany in the third place match. Here’s what their coach, Mark Sampson, had to say yesterday: “We want to achieve something special … we’re playing the queens of women’s football – but they’ve just been beaten and Germany don’t usually lose two in a row. They’ve got the greatest coach in the history of the female game and will want to win Silvia’s last match for her. We want to make history. The exciting thing about this England team is that they don’t know where the limit is, they want to keep evolving, keep getting better. We feel we’ve put the pride back into English football … Laura will be absolutely determined to lift the FA Cup … she and her team-mates deserve a hero’s welcome when they get home”. England has definitely been one of the breakout stars of the tournament.

Before the tournament started, scandal and corruption abounded involving dozens of FIFA executives. As a result, we won’t be seeing Sepp Blatter at the finals on Sunday, which is for the best. One can’t help but wonder how things will be moving forward, especially with the WWC. Will FIFA get its act together and bring in new leadership? I’m not sure, but the cost of corruption on the game is high. David Olive, of the Toronto Star, wrote a fantastic piece about this prior to the tournament starting: It’s not all Sepp’s fault: Why the sports industry is failing us. The relationship between sport and business is profound, but it is only part of the reason women’s soccer is not where it should be, the other part is just plain sexism.

No pictures today, but when I post about the third place match and the finals, I’ll be sure to include some of the latter. Yes, yes, I will be at the finals in Vancouver! So excited, can’t wait.

Could futsal be the key to unlocking talent in England’s next generation?

Fascinating article about the impact futsal could have on the quality of professional soccer in England. The Guardian’s contributing writer Jamie Fahey also includes some insights into the history of futsal.

Check it out here: www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2012/jul/05/futsal-england-next-generation