It Doesn’t End With The Win

(Ronald Martinez, Getty Images)

If you watched the Women’s World Cup this past summer, you have some idea of the controversies surrounding the event. Women competing from all nations banded together in October 2014 to file a lawsuit against FIFA and the Canadian Soccer Association claiming gender discrimination in the decision to play the tournament on turf.

The lawsuit was later dropped in January, but the controversy drew international attention leading up to the tournament and throughout the length of the competition. Abby Wambach was quoted in a previous interview saying “There’s so many different debates around this. But the reality is, the men would never play [the World Cup] on field turf…So for me, it’s a women’s rights issue, it’s an equality issue.”

Then there’s the pay issue. The U.S. women’s team won the tournament and were paid $2 million compared to the German men’s team that won in 2014 and were paid $35 million. The 16 men’s teams that were eliminated in the first round of the 2014 tournament each received $8 million. The first round losers still made four times the amount of the women’s champion team.

Kim Maslin Kammerdeiner, a member of the U.S. 1991 World Cup team, said “I get it, as consumer and as an athlete that there are different levels of demands…but people are starting to demand equal time and pay.”

Here’s another view of the World Cup pay gap and gender discrimination in sports :

(YouTube/American Enterprise Institute)

The Women’s World Cup controversies are only one example of many of women’s professional and national teams being underfunded and marginalized. Why does this happen so frequently?

It can be argued that these recurring issues are due to the under-representation of women in power positions of the governing sport bodies. For example, there are only three women that currently serve on FIFA’s executive board: Lydia Nsekera, Moya Dodd, and Sonia Bien-Aime.

FIFA has most recently completely tarnished its reputation with allegations of corruption, officials arrested, and suspended presidents. Since these incidents, there’s been a big push to fill at least 30 percent of executive board positions with women. More than 75 athletes, including Olympic competitors and other professional soccer players, have backed the call for a more progressive executive board.

International football (soccer) isn’t the only sport to make moves in regards to a more equal playing field.

In August of 2014, Becky Hammon– former women’s professional basketball player- was hired as an assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs, making her the first full-time, salaried female coach in NBA history.

Becky Hammon on the Spurs bench. (Matt York/ Matt York / Associated Press)

In July of 2015, Hammon became the first ever female head coach in the NBA’s Summer League, and led the team to a title on July 20th, making her the first female NBA head coach to win a summer league title.


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