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The US Women’s soccer team dominated the women’s team from Thailand 13 to nil their opening match of the 2019 World Cup. I watched the entire game. It was lopsided but it was so impressive to watch the skill and athleticism of these amazing women. Unfortunately, but not unexpected, instead of being congratulated for setting a World Cup record for the largest margin of victory and most goals scored in a game, the team was chided for poor sportsmanship. One might wonder if a men’s team had this margin of victory that the same criticism would be dished out? If Alex Morgan got in the Thai goalie’s face and trashed talked her after scoring a goal, that’s poor sportsmanship. You know, like what happens after an NBA dunk. Can you imagine the controversy if she did that? Or how about if Megan Rapinoe and team did a goal box choreographed dance after they scored a touchdown? Oops, I mean a goal.
Call it whatever you want, a double standard, the Goldilocks Dilemma, or a double bind. It doesn’t matter if it’s on the soccer pitch, production floor, or a corporate office, women are held to a double standard for their behavior in the workplace. Women can’t be too tough or too soft, they need to be just right – whatever that means.
Sure, the women won big over the Thailand team that was suggested to be the weakest team in the tourney. (Last time US and Thailand played the US won 9-0). Let’s stop chastising the winning team. Instead, why don’t we look into why the Thai team is not yet at the same level as the other qualifying teams. What are the systems that are not allowing them to increase their level of play? Bring them up as opposed to tearing the other team down.
In the background of the World Cup, the US Women’s team has a lawsuit pending against the US Soccer Federation for gender and pay discrimination. The pay disparity is astounding. For example, if you are on the US Men’s team and play 20 exhibition games in a year, you will receive approximately $265,000. For 20 games, a woman will get paid $99,000. In addition, FIFA is a notorious player in this pay inequity game. The French men’s team that won the 2018 WC earned $38M. The 2019 women’s championship team will earn 11% of the men’s purse – a paltry $4M in comparison. What is more startling is the disparity in how losers are paid. The US men’s team was knocked out in the first round of pool play in 2015 and they got $8M. Whereas, the US women, who played 7 games and won the World Cup, received $2M.
The answer is to look deeper and address the systems that are behind these inequities. Let’s bring attention and challenge the organizations and leadership that oversee the resources and attention given to these teams to improve.
Every four years the best soccer athletes take the world stage which is a perfect opportunity to bring attention to this issue. Go #USWNT! Keep the fight up on the playing field and in the courtroom. I commend the team on their strategy and timing to file right before being on the world stage and dominating in the World Cup. Continue to dominate, score as many goals as athletically possible, win by unbelievable margins. It will continue to bring attention to the team and the cause. You have massive support from around the world.