The “Beautiful” Game
It’s been a while!
The 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup ended on Sunday, with the US Women’s National Team dominating Team Japan, 5-2. It was the 3rd time in the 24-year history of the tournament that the US Women have won. I, like an estimated 26 million other Americans, watched the game with excitement. It wasn’t the just the 15-minute exhibition that Carli Lloyd (@carlilloyd) put on that had me excited. Even through a head cold, I was excited for this match well before this happened. I was excited to see soccer, a game I only came to love after I was an adult, get a prime-time spot. And make no mistake about it, this was American soccer at its best. That led me to think of what are some of the biggest takeaways for me, after watching what was truly a beautiful game.
1. There was NO DIVING! – I only got to watch the final, and a handful of other games during the tournament. I was so relieved to not see any diving, biting or other foolery that usually comes with a top-level soccer tournament. Even in the Final, the players were playing all out, and kept the games pretty clean.
2. Top Level is Here – It is the argument I always make with sports fans in Kansas City. Until last fall, KC sports have been littered with losing teams, dysfunctional teams and delusional teams. The fan base was constantly up in arms over the direction of the Chiefs and Royals. Yet through all of the grumbling, Sporting KC had won an MLS Cup. Now, I know that isn’t on par with the World Series or Super Bowl, but it is a championship. And the fact that Sporting KC won a title in a League that still featured an all-time great (Thierry Henry, NY RedBulls) was an accomplishment. Yet many fans here just blew it off and continued to cheer for the failing Chiefs and Royals. Well America, we have a 3-time winner in the Women’s National Team. They deserve to be supported EVEN more. The Men’s Team will still get supported come the 2018 World Cup, but I’d like to see the women get more support. Which leads to my next observation…
3. These women need to get paid – The women’s game is so much more “beautiful” than it gets credit for (have you looked at Carli Lloyd’s goal yet!?!). Yet, most of the women make peanuts when compared to what top-level men’s players make (European leagues). Take for example Abby Wambach. She is the number 1 (the top) international goal scorer in futbol/football/soccer history (183). To put it in perspective, the number one men’s player with that distinction is Iran’s Ali Daei (109). In fact, there are 6 more women ahead of Mr. Daei’s 109 goals. Some of the most prolific players and scorers in history, and yet they only make a fraction of what the men make. The CONCACAF has tried several times to get women’s leagues up and running in North America. Hopefully the momentum of this victory will allow for more growth and support for the National Women’s Soccer League. The Women’s Pro Soccer (WPS) didn’t survive after it had early momentum.
Whatever follows Sunday’s victory, I hope that the game of soccer progresses in the US, particularly for women.
Until next time