A proposal for those who loved watching the Women’s World Cup

Fans of the Portland Thorn are known for showing up in force for their team. (Photo: espnW)

Fans of the Portland Thorns FC are known for showing up in force for their team. (Photo: espnW)

It’s been four days since the U.S. won the Women’s World Cup, and excitement over the victory is still high.  Mingled with that excitement, though, is dismay and disgust at the realization that the women will earn a fraction of the payout that losing men’s teams received during their last World Cup.

I share that disgust and that dismay.  This entire World Cup has basically been one episode after another of FIFA showing their asses, from massive offenses like the artificial turf scandal to the fact that FIFA spent more producing a movie that grossed a whopping $918 in the US than they did for their entire payout for the Women’s World Cup.  (And that’s without even mentioning the arrests for corruption or all of the people who have died while trying to prepare for the World Cup in Qatar.) Basically, FIFA officials make the IOC seem like a bunch of wholesome Girl Scouts in comparison, and I fart in their general direction.

The arguments made by FIFA’s defenders – and yes, they do still have some, amazingly enough – is that the economics of the game don’t support higher salaries and payouts for female soccer/football players. The audience for women’s soccer is there for the World Cup and for the Olympics, but then when the global spectacle ends, so does a lot of the interest, which has historically made it difficult to support leagues, let alone actual living salaries for the league’s players.  (Although, is it possible that this could finally change…?)

So I have a proposition for everyone who watched the Women’s World Cup and was electrified by it, for everyone who blew up Twitter with images of Carli Lloyd on the $10 bill, and for everyone who shared an outraged Facebook post or tweet when the pay discrepancy became known:

Go to a National Women’s Soccer League game. Round up some friends, buy some tickets, and go.  Paint your face, buy a scarf and wave it around, scream your brains out, have a blast. Or if that’s not your bag, sit quietly, sip your beer and applaud every time someone scores a goal.

Either way, if you can, go.

If you are like me, and you live in a part of the country where there are no professional women’s soccer teams?  (I literally have to drive 1,000 miles to get to a city with a NWSL franchise.)  Well, you can either go when you travel to a city that has a team, or you can catch an international friendly when it comes to your city.  That’s how I ended up seeing the USWNT when they played against Brazil in Orlando.

And I’ll tell you what – that game remains one of the most fun, exciting sports events I’ve ever attended, and I once saw a playoff game in Fenway Park where the Red Sox scored more than two dozen runs to obliterate the Indians (and I was sitting behind Matt Damon the whole game). The two-hour drive and the cost of the ticket was well worth it, and then some.

Yes, it is absolutely important that we be outraged and critical and angry about the unfairness of it all, but we can’t just let it end there. Social media outrage is important but it doesn’t put food on the table for the players.  So let’s show our support with the only thing that corporations really listen to in our society: our dollar bills.

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17 responses to “A proposal for those who loved watching the Women’s World Cup

  1. I love this! The problem is that its hard to find ways to give dollars. I live in one of the Canadian host cities, and went to 3 games in-person. I also went to a friendly between Canada and Korean a few years ago and to the women’s U-20 world cup game last year.

    But I can’t find a way to legally watch NWSL (or any of the World Cup games that I didn’t attend in person). The only way is to final an illegal stream! The FWWC games were on TV but I don’t own a TV, and they wouldn’t give me an online account (that I wanted to pay for! take my money!) unless I subscribed to a year of cable. I don’t even know how I could watch NWSL in Canada even if I had a TV.

    The one thing I could think of is to go to bars and ask them to change the channel to FWWC (thereby getting even more people watching!) but they wouldn’t play it with sound unless it was a Canada game. I really don’t know what else to do!

    • I hear you! They certainly don’t make it easy to be a fan, which is just appalling on the part of the governing bodies. They do post games on YouTube, but I don’t know if there are any restrictions for you to watch up in Canada: https://www.youtube.com/user/NWSLsoccer

      I think it’s awesome that you went to three games in person. Did you have a good time?

  2. I totally agree! I am in the UK and I tried to get a team jersey so that I could wear it on dress down Friday and show my support…everywhere had all the men’s versions, but none of the womens’! I also told people about the games, and right up until the end I had people responding with surprise that women were playing! Admitedly, that tailed off towards the end, but still! I stumbled acrosss this today: http://www.levo.com/ask4more and I really feel that it is all linked. We don’t ask for what we desere, we ask for what we think we deserve, and that means that so often it is just accepted that these discrepancies continue to exist.
    I hope your town gets more games!

    • Yeah, there are a lot of structural and institutional things in place that prevent people from even being aware of the sport, which makes it hard to cultivate the audience, which is what detractors then turn around and point to as evidence that the sport is unworthy of support and attention. It’s a nasty Catch-22, so I hope that everyone who loved watching the World Cup and was outraged by the discrepancies will make an effort to do what we can to change this a bit.

    • Seriously, why is it so hard to say, “I think the women’s game is less impressive”? There are people who prefer to watch men’s soccer instead of women’s soccer, and vice versa. And here’s the really mind-blowing part: some people like watching both! This insistence on making it this zero-sum game, where only one gender gets to have a sport worth watching and the other should just pack it up and go home, is utter nonsense.

      • It amused me to phrase it like that and I prefer how I put it thank you very much.. Plus the word distinctly was important. It’s not just a little bit shitter, it’s a lot shitter. But I do take your point about people getting a kick out of women’s football all the same.

      • Do you often make a point of going into places where people are talking about how much they like something and telling them all why that thing sucks? Or do you reserve that pleasure solely for those of us who like women’s soccer?

    • I don’t even enjoy team sports (I’m a lifter, a speedwalker, a meditative fitness type) but online footage of Carli Lloyd’s hat trick kept me stuck to my computer while I watched it over and over. How is that not exciting? It looked like someone kicking a ball from Earth to Mars. There is no shortage of men’s soccer broadcasts on the televisions that infest my weight gym; I can’t get away from them. I don’t see how they are any more riveting. That’s just my opinion too, but anything that can catch the attention of someone who thinks it’s a BORING PASTIME has to have traction.

      • That goal from half-field was just *jaw drop.* I’m so happy I got to see that as it happened because it was wonderful.

    • No men’s player has ever scored a midfield goal in the world cup. It was distinctly impressive, by any standard.

  3. Thanks for this post. As a former soccer player I very much appreciate the sport. I recently moved to Seattle and have been meaning to go to a Reign game. This post motivated me to text my friend so we can actually pick out a date. 🙂

  4. Thorns fan here. I’m out of the country so we watch the games on Youtube after the fact which actually works quite well. I’m proud to say that the Thorns have a solid fan base (at least 13,000) to a game. I have a feeling since the World Cup though that that fanbase has probably grown.

    I feel that some solidarity is needed. We all know that morally the women are sacrificing just as much of their lives as the men are to play professionally; therefore, the obscene pay gap shouldn’t exist. Look at the pay gap in America in general though with Latina women getting as low as 50 cents for every dollar a white man earns for the same work. What a joke. Obviously things need to change.

    I think it is time for those with the privilege of being born into the male sex to stand up and demand their female equivalents receive the same pay. It baffles me how many blind eyes have been turned by male professional athletes.

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