The 2015 Women’s World Cup saw the US win an astounding victory. There was praise for the athletes, yet there were still issues present that are still too common in women’s sports. Beyond that, some behaviors exposed some vicious hatreds and social ills. The obvious problem was the fact that the Women’s World cup received little coverage.Women’s sports do not get the same level of respect or coverage as the men’s event. It seems to be a missed opportunity for media outlets. Social media does have positive aspects, but it has a malicious element. Users posted racist comments in response to Japan’s loss and America’s victory. There is a level of ethnic hatred that is present in international sports competition. Besides that social ill, women were subjected to one of the most blatant acts of sexism: gender verification tests. While this will go down as a milestone in women’s sports history, these problems cannot be ignored.
The Women’s World Cup received little coverage or fanfare. This is nothing new because for a longtime women’s sports have been given less support. The professional sports world is still highly male dominated, even with this generation that benefited from Title IX. Detractors claim women’s sports cannot be interesting and that the public will not watch. This is not true due to the fact that the Women’s World Cup broke ratings records. The World Cup final captured a U.S audience of 22.6 million viewers. This is significant. Americans normally do not take an interest in soccer and this victory could have the potential to popularize the sport . The ratings prove that women’s sports can be a draw, if allowed to flourish. Marketing and public relations are essential, but there has to be a will to do it. Both the US and Japan played well and viewers responded. It is ludicrous that FIFA does not utilize this new interest in women’s soccer. During the games the coverage was so minimal. There is a belief that the women’s event is not “serious” enough and that the men’s event is better. Detractors claim women are not as strong, fast, or fun to watch. While it is true that there are performance differences, this does not subtract from the excitement of the game. The only problem some people have is that women are playing what they perceive as a “man’s game.”Sexism has never gone away in sport, but has expressed itself in other ways.
Women soccer players face a certain level of sexism. One example is the use of artificial grass on the playing field. Men do get a field with real grass. The artificial grass has been known to cause injuries and effect player performance. The obvious reason for doing this is to show disrespect. It is not possible for FIFA to prohibit women from sport, but they can at least make the atmosphere uncomfortable.
This is meant to humiliate and discourage women from competition. However, women players are not deterred. Their love of the sport is too strong. Artificial turf is horrible enough, but even worse is that sex verification was required of players. FIFA once claimed that it was also going to do this for its male athletes. That 2011 ruling has never been implemented. There was an attempt to make this appear “fair” by doing random selection. The idea is that women who are deemed “too masculine” should not be allowed to compete. This is discrimination directed at women. Ever since the Women’s World Cup began, there have been no cases of men disguising themselves as women to play on teams. This argument of protecting women from unfair advantage lacks cogency. Some women may have natural advantage, but that does not make them less of a female. Hyperandronism a condition which allows some women to produce more testosterone may not enhance athletic performance. Having more testosterone would not automatically make a person stronger. It is the portion of free testosterone in the body. It is unclear that this condition would make a woman a better soccer player. They should not be banned from competition, because biologically they are still female. These policies are designed to control women and create a hostile environment.
Another disturbing element that occurred after the games were racist reactions from fans. Twitter and other social media outlets were filled with racist jokes about Japan’s women’s team. This is no surprise, because there was also a hateful reaction to Japan’s victory a few years ago. This time there were inappropriate comments about Pearl Harbor, the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This reveals the psychology of a superpower. Not only does the country think its above others, but it views other nations as inferior.Sports are more than just games, they are political tools. International competitions such as these are an extension of that. It seems that foot ball hooliganism will gradually become international. Foot ball fans from Europe are notorious for their racism both in the arena and online. America has never been a friendly place for non-whites either. Soccer is not popular enough in the US to form a hooligan culture, but the hate and prejudice is there. The US media did not discuss these disturbing comments, but instead turned the women’s victory into a patriotic publicity stunt. The US women’s team were on many news and entertainment media outlets. This was done not to praise the women’s performance or accomplishments, but induce a psychological effect in the US population. What is being subliminally transmitted is that America is number one and it always will be. This does not represent reality, due to the fact the US is struggling economically and politically. Sports can provide a unifying force and distraction to a public uncertain about the future. Racism is another negative attribute of sports that just will not go away.
FIFA has become synonymous with corruption. Its image has been damaged and is in dire need of repair. The Women’s World Cup was in many ways a boost. The women could hold the key to improving FIFA’s declining reputation. Sexist discrimination will not help. Sex verification must stop. Women need to play on real grass not artificial turf. Women need to have full inclusion int he world of football. This does not mean only as players, but as coaches, managers, and FIFA officials. Gender equality should be made a top priority. Doing nothing will not solve the problem. May be it is time that women start soccer organizations of their own rather than relying on a body that clearly is criminal.
Chappell, Bill. “U.S. Women Shatter TV Ratings Record For Soccer With World Cup Win.” NPR. NPR, 06 July 2015. Web. 28 July 2015.
Fagan, Kate. “FAGAN: FIFA TARGETS FEMALE PLAYERS WITH GENDER VERIFICATION GUIDELINES.” Espnw.com. Espnw.com, 14 June 2015. Web. 7 July 2015.