The Americans have a useful word – derived from Yiddish – to describe the actions of the US women’s soccer team there, chutzpah. If it were not for gender discrimination absolutely none of these women would be playing international soccer. They wouldn’t even be playing club games, nor even college. And yet the demand is that there must be gender parity.
Cake and eating it appearing to be a specialty here.
All 28 current members of the United States women’s soccer team have filed a lawsuit against their own governing body alleging years of “institutionalized gender discrimination”. The team, who are the reigning world champions, are seeking equal pay with their male counterparts, who failed to reach the 2018 World Cup. The lawsuit, which was filed in a federal court in Los Angeles on Friday, seeks equal pay and treatment, in addition to damages including back pay. The group, which includes some of the best players in the world such as Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan and Carli Lloyd, are also seeking compensation for any player who has appeared for the US since February 2015. If the lawsuit is successful it could cost the US Soccer Federation millions of dollars.
Those three are not among the best players in the world. Nothing like it. They would not be hired by anyone to play first class football anywhere. They’d not make it into a Premiership team, a Bundesliga one, Serie A, nothing, let alone an international side.
They are indeed among the best women soccer players in the world but that’s rather the point. In order to give women a chance at representative sport we deliberately wall off women’s sport. As has been pointed out about Florence Joyner Griffiths when she got her Olympic medal in world record time. That time would have got her, in that same year, fourth place in the Bronx High School competition among men. Or when the Matildas, the Oz women’s soccer team, played the colts side (say, 14 to 15 year olds) of an Oz professional men’s club they lost 7 Nil. The Williams sisters both lost, horrendously, to a man ranked 200 and more in the world at the time.
Male and female physiques differ, there simply isn’t a level playing field in sports and cannot be. Where that possibility does exist, say in three day eventing, then men and women compete on those equal terms already.
So, our insistence upon a women’s soccer team is gender discrimination and necessary and righteous gender discrimination. At which point, the demand for gender parity is looking cake and eat it, isn’t it?
Another way to put this is that women’s and men’s soccer are different sports. As much as tiddlywinks and rugby are different sports. We see nothing odd at all in the world champions at manipulating squidgers are paid a different amount to those who beat the world at scrums. So, why this complaint about gender distinguished soccer?
Unless it’s all about the main chance and spotting an opportunity to whine. Which is rather how we’d think about it all to be honest. Why should those who wouldn’t make an open access adult team be paid the same as those who do? Reasons isn’t a good enough argument.