Categorized | Thoughts

Classic Doublespeak: Sexism in Football

This post was written by Isaiah.

The world loves to hear people prattle on about themselves. If you don’t believe me, just listen to any of Kanye’s albums. Sometimes interviews are immensely revealing of their subjects, such as Inside the Actor’s Studio‘s trip through comedy with Dave Chappelle (YouTube has some of it here), but other times they reveal their inner bigot in a way that is not intended. When they are rightly harangued for their paleolithic views by one section of the media and society, these celebrities are often simultaneously defended by those who are convinced there is some sort of concerted oppression of whatever privileged group the celebrity is part of. A recent example is Duck Dynasty‘s Phil Robertson commenting on homosexuality and race in a GQ interview and then the re-backlash from Christian conservatives. If you’re interested in such things, a good takedown of parts of that can be found here. It should be noted that Dusty is right in his prediction: A&E has already re-hired Robertson for another season.

Another type of the character-suicide-by-interview is the one that happens during a press conference. Laurent Blanc recently committed this by making light of women’s tactical understanding. He “joked” that it was beautiful that a woman understood the difference between 4-4-2 and 4-3-3 while speaking to a journalist asking him questions. That journalist, Johanna Franden, is Aftonbladet‘s international football correspondent and while you might mock that newspaper’s general coverage, it’s obviously foolish to think that they have journalists who don’t know anything about the fields they’re covering.

Only that’s the thing: is it obvious? It seems blindingly obvious in cases like Blanc’s sexism because it was stated out in the open. We are also quick to believe anything negative about him because we already know that despite being cleared of racism charges in court, Blanc was part of a French national team structure that at the very least discussed implementation of racial quotas throughout the youth training program. It’s not necessarily so obvious in more nuanced moments, like Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s Expressen interview (Swedish) from December 13.

At one point, according to a variety of media outlets, Zlatan said, as quoted in translation by The Local, “I was asked last summer who was the best, me or (Swedish ladies international) Lotta Schelin. You’re kidding with me, right? You’re joking with me. Do I have to answer that?”

It’s not like Sweden hasn’t recently encountered a divide between men’s and women’s soccer, either. In November, after Anders Svensson broke the all-time caps record for the Swedish national team with his 148th appearance, he was given a Volvo at a Swedish sports awards ceremony. Not really a big deal, except that he was given said car literally in front of Therese Sjögran, who just happens to have a record 178 caps for the Swedish women’s national team and who was most definitively not given a car. Obviously this oversight was corrected after the fact—by Peugeot.

In fact, Zlatan goes on to talk about that when the interviewer asks a follow up to his remarks on Schelin: “The media put a black shadow over everything. [Svensson] is better known for having been given a car than for breaking the record…Pay tribute to him instead for this record as he is one of the few players who has reached this level. It is better to stay on that line instead of devaluing him by comparing him with the ladies’ individual achievements. They can get a bike with my autograph and then we are good.”

He starts off with a correct statement about how Svensson’s record is no longer being talked about because of this car thing, but then he devolves into a sort of logic fail in which he says a comparison to the women’s game is a devaluation of Svensson himself. Oh and did I mention the part where he says that the Swedish women’s national team players who break records can get bikes instead of the cars the men get? From other comments it appears that he takes umbrage at how women are getting such equal shares of the glory while they’re pulling in so much less TV and advertising revenue.

The defense of Zlatan begins there, with the concept that it’s not fair when women get the same things as men. It’s the “Why is the WNBA on my TV” argument: they’re not as good, they’re not as fast, they’re not as entertaining. Why do women get gold medals at Olympics when their 100m times wouldn’t even get them to the final of the men’s race? Another tactic is to pooh-pooh the abilities of the women in question. Note that Zlatan doesn’t suggest that he’s better at football than Lotta Schelin, he mocks the entire idea of it. “You’re kidding, right?” It’s not even in the realm of the fathomable to The Great and Power Zlatan that someone might wonder if a woman who has put up insane numbers by any standard–some 140 goals in 138 games (depending on which set of stats you look up, but they’re all in agreement that she scores right around a goal per match)–might be nearly as good as him. Schelin also happens to play in the French league and has won the title there 5 times in a row since joining Lyon, has won the European Champions League title twice (consecutively at that), the Coupe de France twice (also consecutively), and the International Women’s Club Championship in 2012.

Yet poor Zlatan has to field questions about who is better. And what a joke, amirite? I once worked on a painting crew with a bunch of guys from my high school, several of whom played on the football team with me. The youngest of these guys was convinced that he, a second string midfielder on a mediocre high school team in the middle of Ohio, was better than any woman in the world. The rest of us laughed at him and eventually confronted him with this question in front of our coach, a semi-pro player in the Cleveland area whose skills were far and away above our own, and I’m happy to say that he laughed a hearty full-belly laugh and then told our little friend that the worst player in the then-existent WUSA would run rings around absolutely everyone on his own semi-pro team. Yet the kid wasn’t convinced.

Zlatan too is unconvinced. Schelin, Franden, and Sjögran are all highly successful Swedish women whose careers are nothing but literal laughs for men who should know far better. The amount of work that goes into building such a career, track record, and recognizable name is something that Zlatan and Laurent Blanc have already experienced, but they’re sitting on their throne looking down at everyone else. What isn’t “fair” is that women who compete at the national level in football are very often amateur or semi-pro athletes who have second jobs to cover their travel and training expenses. They’re at the peak of their powers, they’re dominating their sport, and their bodies are insane machines that can outperform all but the most elite of men yet they get to be disrespected on a grand stage simply because, well, men pull in more money.

There’s another side of the argument as well, which runs something like this: Zlatan isn’t talking about how Schelin and Sjögran are jokes because they’re women, but because of the level of play. Here’s what he said, according to The Guardian, “With all respect for what the ladies have done, and they’ve done it fantastically well, you can’t compare men’s and women’s football. Give it up, it’s not even funny.” It’s classic doublespeak to compliment someone in an offhand, meaningless way before putting them in their place.

You’re really bright, you’ve got a lot of sound ideas and your understanding of football’s ins-and-outs is really great, but Zlatan complimented them, he said the national team is doing great, but men are simply playing at a higher level; if you can’t see that, you are a sexist, Miss Take-Back-the-Night. Check your sexism-card-playing at the door, we’ll only have logical arguments here!

Sound familiar? The part that’s probably most infuriating isn’t the name-calling, the “rape is a joke” baiting idiocy, but the condescension where some Joe Schmo on the street can deign to acknowledge that a woman has the tactical nous to discuss a 4-3-3, or what the differences between Lotta Schelin and Zlatan Ibrahimovic may be. Classic doublespeak.

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90 Responses to “Classic Doublespeak: Sexism in Football”

  1. blitzen says:

    It’s classic doublespeak to compliment someone in an offhand, meaningless way before putting them in their place.

    This!

    Thanks, Isaiah, for putting this into words better than I could have done. You’re pretty smart for a dude. :P

  2. Jim says:

    I’m staying right outta this one :)

  3. Peter says:

    I have a serious question:

    Why would you pay attention to(or give a limping fcuk about) whatever Kanye and/or Zlatze! are saying?? Each one of them would make Narcissus look like the definition of altruism.

    Yes, female football will continue to be overshadowed by mens football. Yes, there should be more recognition for women breaking records in what is considered a male sport(this side of the ocean). No, it will not come soon enough, even though it should. The viewing audience is male-oriented to the extreme. For the viewers to appreciate female football they need to acknowledge the fact that female football players are better than them – and few would ever.
    This is why I’m proud to be a Barcelona supporter – the female Blaugrana, even though it’s not exactly professional in the same sense as the first male team, is a very good squad – and by and large it’s cherished by the culers. Why? Because by and large it’s beautiful football.

    Compare it to a recent(-ish) article/interview in AS http://futbol.as.com/futbol/2013/10/15/primera/1381860992_005365.html in which a female Real Madrid Socio talked about years of trying to convince the presidents of Real to establish a female football team. The official response of the richest football club in the world has always been “Ain’t nobody got time/money fo’ dat.” Oh, and you should read the comments(actually you really shouldn’t) pouring tears and snot about the diminishing power of the working man and how women should pull their weight in the family and how it’s another manifestation of women demanding shiny things from men.

    • njwv says:

      It’s not about caring who said it. It’s taking the opportunity to blast sexist rhetoric. Too many people fall back on the logic that men deserve to make more money because society has decided that men are more marketable.

  4. DianaKristinne says:

    Zlatan made an attempt to clear his name of the sexism allegations, but I don’t think it really worked.

    “The Swedish Football Association were slammed for their decision to award Anders Svensson a car for breaking the international appearance record held by Thomas Ravelli, despite women’s midfielder Therese Sjogran receiving no such recognition for reaching a greater number of caps.

    Ibrahimovic, however, insists his comments were not reported correctly at the time. “In Sweden, it’s a sensitive topic. The only thing I said was that you cannot compare the two,” he said on the matter.

    “As I said, I respect them a lot, they’ve done a very good job, but that time I was talking to a journalist who was ignorant because I was making a joke and he wrote it out of context in his article.

    “But it’s my fault, because I shouldn’t have spoken to this reporter. I won a prize but this paper focused solely on the issues of women’s football, so if I win the award next year, it won’t be interesting, believe me.””

  5. fotobirajesh says:

    Excellent, its this kind of articles that makes BFB what it is..Well done.

    I have only seen very few number of Women’s matches. But in all of them, I thought there were some girls who could take it up with men. Excellent talents.

    Recently in India, the Bengal state team defeated another state (Tripura?) by 26 goals. I heard about this match and waited for the highlights and I was really surprised. Some of the goals were results of Barca-esque passing. Some brilliant players too.

    I am sure with better promo and TV coverage women football will have its fans. When that happens, a player like Marta will get all attention as Pele did.

    On Zlatan – ha ha, its typically Zlatanesque, lets simply ignore/enjoy.

    • barca96 says:

      A player to look out for is Marta. I found out about her at the Ballon d’Or award where they showed a clip of her when Ronaldinho was the winner. She can definitely kick some men’s footballers ass.

      You should also watch a Brazil vs USA match. Great rivalry. They’re pretty rough. I watched Brazil vs USA many many years ago and it was so good that I keep an eye whenever their playing. Sweden and Japan are good too.

  6. Levon says:

    I’m gonna risk becoming BFB’s black sheep and say I disagree with many of the opinions/conclusions expressed in this article (although I love that Isaiah’s written it).

    Laurent Blanc’s complement to a female journalist on understanding the difference between 4-4-2 and 4-3-3 is indeed sexist. Zlatan, however, is getting a lot of unfair criticism for asserting that male soccer players are better than their female counterparts.

    Although not diplomatic, it is understandable when he mocks the question of whether he is better than Lotta Schelin, a player who does not perform at nowhere near the same level of the sport that he has over the last ten years.

    His bike-joke might be crude, but it is a joke(!), albeit with an underlying idea that cannot be denied. Male soccer players generate a lot more interest and money around the globe than female players.

    Svensson was awarded with a car for his achievements in representing Sweden at sports tournaments that are seen by up to a billion people around the globe. Can the female record cap holder say the same?

    It is very unfortunate for planet Earth that we live in a male-dominated society, because there are so many things that women are equally good or better at than men. Sports is not one of those things. I fail to see what is sexist about recognizing that simple fact.

    • mazimi says:

      That’s a fair comment, thanks. There is no way we can compare the women’s football with men’s. And I think Zlatan is right in what he says (not the joke though)

    • Kxevin says:

      No. He is getting stick for being a sexist buffoon, for demeaning women’s football and considering it a “joke” that someone would ever ask him whether a female player could be as good as he was, without having the common sense to apply a shard of contextual logic to the situation.

      So he doesn’t scoff at the notion. He says something like, “Well, she works just hard against her peers as I do against mine, and hats off to her for her efforts for Sweden.” He didn’t say that. And now he is trying to weasel out by saying that he was misinterpreted, a standard reaction as someone tries to extricate their foot from their mouth.

      To reduce it to “I agree with him because women’s football isn’t as good as men’s football” simplifies the point, to my view. He was almost insulted that someone would ask the question. And while he was at it, he also wants to take money from women’s football, since apparently nobody cares, anyhow.

      But maybe he was just unhappy because the Sweden women qualified for their respective WC, while he will be watching from home (again) on his television.

      The tone of his remarks was indeed sexist. Following it up with “and by the by, they don’t really need that money” made it worse. Is HE sexist? Dunno.

      From a speed and athleticism worldview, or the standard ways of parsing a game’s “goodness,” the men’s game is better. But you need to compare apples and oranges to let that comparison stick. Ibrahimovic did that, which is intellectually lazy. Could you imagine Xavi or Iniesta saying what Ibrahomivic did?

      The reward for Svensson was for being capped that many times. It is essentially an attendance award, so why wouldn’t you reward his female counterpart in the same way?

      Further, it is an exceptionally safe bet that Sweden’s matches don’t draw as many viewers as the actual World Cup tournament. And if the award is simply for an athlete’s service to their country, what makes his award any more deserving than hers?

      There is no, and I mean zero, level on which this situation can be parsed that makes it reasonable. Why not just call it “girls football,” and have them play in lingerie? After all, those cute little things aren’t as interesting to watch as the men, nor as exciting. Might as well spark it up for the gents, eh?

      For me, Isaiah’s piece was spot on. There was a Twitter discussion about it, in which people tried to reduce to its prima facie status: men ARE better than women at football, and no, they don’t bring in as much money. The first is apples vs oranges. The second is just chauvanism.

      I wonder what Ibrahimovic would say if someone suggested that money be taken from the Sweden men for not making the WC. By his “pay for performance” view, which we can probably extrapolate from his comments about funding the women’s game, it would be fair and logical. Hell, this makes yet another WC that the Swedish men will be watching from home. In context, it appears that the women outperform the men in this instance.

      Sure, if the female 100-meter champion ran against the male champion, she would lose. Does that make her accomplishment, fairly achieved against her peers, any less valid? Or is it somehow tainted because she is not a man who can’t run as fast as Usain Bolt, so why should anyone bother?

      As an athlete, a cyclist, I have ridden bikes with women who can ride my ass into dust. So does it then become, “Well, the BEST men are better than the BEST women at sports?” Again, absent of any context at all, that’s a fair statement. But when you start to apply ANY sort of context or nuance, it just doesn’t hold up, because that isn’t the point.

      • blitzen says:

        Exactly. Agree with Kxevin 100%. And I would like to add:

        “Male soccer players generate a lot more interest and money around the globe than female players.”

        This is exactly the sort of doublespeak that Isaiah is referring to. If the women’s game was funded and marketed at the same level as the men’s game, it would undoubtedly generate more interest, and therefore more money. It isn’t, so it doesn’t. And even if women’s football never achieves the same level of global interest as the men’s game, how is that any excuse for belittling the achievements of a fellow athlete?

        And also, Lev? Just because something is a “joke” doesn’t make it any less sexist. When someone tells a girl or woman that she deserves less of a reward than a man when she has worked equally as hard? That’s not funny in the slightest.

        • Levon says:

          “Male soccer players generate a lot more interest and money around the globe than female players.”

          How on earth do you construe this as doublespeak, blitzen? It’s a factual statement. I have a very straight forward opinion on the matter, which people are free to disagree with respectfully.

          I remember they actually tried to market the WNBA pretty aggressively but stopped when it didn’t generate the interest so desired. It might or might not have something to do with that dudes who warmed the bench for their High School sophomore basketball squad would still in a pick-up game destroy the starters of the female senior team. In sports, people generally want to watch the best athletes.

          It is not about whether or not women work equally hard, but about the level at which they reach their achievements. I will readily admit that women are better than men at a lot of things, among wich are organizing, multi-tasking and, yes, driving. IQ test upon IQ test has proven that you have the greater intellect. Ahtletics? Not so much. Now is it sexist to believe that a person who plays sports at a higher level which generates more money should reap greater rewards?

          If female athletes want the same awards/salaries as men then they should campaign to compete with men directly instead of in separate female leagues. We’ll see how many make the NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB, UFC and top soccer squads in various leagues around Europe.

          • Kxevin says:

            Actually, the WNBA complexity is that people want to see tatted-up dudes dunking, instead of basketball fundamentals. If you haven’t watched a WNBA game, it’s worth a look. You will see more fundamental play in 5 minutes than you will see in the entirety of an NBA game. It’s why I can’t watch hoops now.

            But it’s also the prevailing “standard” defining the activity, which is at the root of what blitzen was getting at. In other words, if LeBron James is the standard, how can you appreciate Tamika Catchings? “She can’t even dunk. Why would I watch that?”

            Just because men don’t play it doesn’t mean it isn’t worth watching. I’d rather watch the Japan women play, than some dull-ass Premiership 0-0. Any day of the week.

          • DianaKristinne says:

            Do the women tennis players have to compete against the men? No. But they get the respect they deserve for being great athletes. Which is what should happen in all sports.

          • Levon says:

            Fundamentals? The last time I watched a WNBA game they threw up three airballs in as many minutes, and that was after the opening tipoff.

            Coincidentally the last 0-0 in the EPL was four rounds ago. It is my favorite league by far, I actually prefer it over ours, let alone Japanese female soccer. Different tastes for different folks…

            Like I said, let women participate in male leagues. They will have real parity, and the pay and exposure that they deserve.

          • Cule says:

            For some reason I’m not able to respond to Kxevin’s comment, but if you aren’t watching the English Premier League, you’re missing out big time. there are 4 teams that have a reasonable chance of winning it all, very close at the top. This season’s EPL is the most competitive league witnessed in the modern era. Not watching is probably not what you want to be doing, if you’re a fan of football.

      • Jim says:

        While still wearing the hard hat could I ask in what way it is comparing apples to oranges that couldn’t be applied to any team playing another?

        I’m also not clear why stating a fact about amount of money brought in is chauvinism. I can see why some might choose to describe it as such but as you might say that is to bring their own narrative to the fact.

        Dang! Meant to stay out of this but could do with the clarification.

        • Kxevin says:

          Jim, it isn’t the amount of money, but rather that it be linked to draw. The notion goes against the spirit of athletic funding. In the U.S., for example, colleges have a great many sports, even if people only care about the football and basketball programs.

          So do colleges just not bother with the other athletics, such as lacrosse, field hockey, track and field, etc? Or is a sport funded irrespective of its level of accomplishment (which is a good thing for the Sweden men’s team, it must be added)? Why stop with women’s football? Who cares about shot putters, or javelin throwers, or decathletes, if you follow the Ibrahimovic suggestion to its logical (or illogical) terminus.

          That said, I just don’t think that you can parse the Ibrahimovic statement about funding from the rest of his comment. If you are able to, then it becomes a simple question of funding, i.e. pay for performance. But, couldn’t you also say that that people who want to remove it from his other statements, bring their own narrative to the situation, in the same way many suggest in the other direction?

          Sorry, hope that’s clear, Jim.

          • Calvin says:

            Not getting dragged into the greater debate, but where I went to college 90% of mens sports funding was channeled into football, basketball, and baseball because those were the sports the community watched most and they were the most “profitable” (can be shown on national TV).

            So yes, even in college sports the greater the viewership, the greater the profitability, the more funding.

            Note: this doesn’t apply to the men’s/women’s divide because of title 9

          • njwv says:

            All of this. Plus the fact that that the “these draw well so let’s put all our money there” logic is completely circular.

            I was specifically annoyed by the linking of the compensation with what the athletes draw. Especially because with womens sports, the ONLY way it seems like any of them can become a draw is to be traditionally attractive and be willing to show some skin. And if that happens they end up being dismissed as non-serious athletes, especially if they don’t end up winning anything.

            Zlatan has never had to worry about being the Kournikova of soccer. He never will. Society values male athletes as athletes first. Society values female athletes as objects to lust over. Still. An ugly winner isn’t a draw (look what happened this year with Marion Bartoli).

            And it’s because that framework exists is why the linking is so offensive and needs to be called out.

  7. blitzen says:

    On a somewhat related note, I never realized before that Real Madrid doesn’t even have a women’s football team. Barça has had one since 1988, and the current team are excellent. Not only they did they win the league last season, but eight of our players have just been selected for the women’s NT against Norway on January 14. Visca Barça!

    • Peter says:

      Real Madrid won’t create a women’s football team for three main reasons:

      1. They have no friggin idea who are the Galacticas

      2. They are afraid that since the Real team would be new, it would be getting dragged all over the field by the Blaugrana

      3. Even worse if the Real Ladies manage to win some kind of a trophy – imagine the shame if the men’s team don’t!

      • blitzen says:

        Imagine if there could be a women’s Clasico! You think the men’s Clasico is intense? Wait until the women get into it!

        • Peter says:

          Oh well, since we’re talking hypothetically, Mini Estadi would be packed every time – but I don’t think the opposite would be true for the return leg.
          Expect Marca and AS to be quiet as the grave before female Clasicos, even quieter after a defeat, and with a second exclusive edition in case of a win. Roncero to proclaim the Valkyries as the best-looking, most-endowed and also best-at-sandwich-making footballers in the world when they win, and scream for the dissolution of the women’s team when they lose.
          :D

  8. dl says:

    Tough conversation, because it is very difficult to clearly state the contexts of the various points of view when commenting.

    It is clear that professional athletes these days all perform at a remarkable level, and as such deserve respect for their achievements. One could say ‘everyone gets an A for effort’.

    This is not the same as saying everyone ran as fast, or that the Swedish national women’s team can keep up with the Swedish national men’s team. As Kxevin says, that would be comparing apples to oranges. However in defense of Ibra, that appears to have been the way the question was framed, and it seems to me that that is the point of view that Ibra had when he was responding to the question.

    He said a number of other things that betrayed a fairly macho attitude — I hope he has a couple of really delightful children (both boys and girls) so he gets the opportunity to learn the problems with that. Based on his book, he seems to be a thoughtful and decent person, and there is always room for everyone to grow and mature.

    • Peter says:

      Practically everybody appears thoughtful and decent in their biographies unless they’re some kind of a monster.

      • dl says:

        I assume that is in response to my last paragraph, and that you are implying he might not be thoughtful and decent. I stand by my position that “there is always room for everyone to grow and mature”.

  9. ooga aga says:

    hey. no one has mentioned this and it’s a bit off topic. but today victor valdes got the go-aheasd to play vs Elche. and Messi played the full training today (open to general public) and had 3 goals and an assist in the scrimmage. but not sure whether he plays vs Elche yet.

  10. blitzen says:

    As a Canadian I would like to point out that our women’s football team is successful, fantastic, and extremely marketable. Christine Sinclair is a very recognizable sports personality here, while our mens’ NT is pretty awful and I doubt if your average Canadian could name a single player.

    The Canadian women’s hockey team is also highly successful, consistently finishing in the top two in both the World Championships and the Olympics. And frankly, Hayley Wickenheiser could outplay most male hockey players.

    So, yeah, I object to the dismissal of women as “lesser” athletes than men. Female bodies are different than male ones, that’s obvious. But if you can’t appreciate a highly-trained female athlete for what she does, I really have nothing to say to you.

  11. barca96 says:

    Or maybe the reporter should’ve asked it more clearly. Instead of the straight up who’s better, why not ask Ibra “who’s better in their respective field”. Maybe then Ibra could’ve answered it more appropriately.

    In any case, the reporter should’ve known better. Or perhaps the reporter knew exactly what he was doing… Looking for a headline story.

  12. Ultraculé says:

    Nice article Isaiah and good points kxevin. But I am going to stay out of this.

    *OT alert*
    I just did a thorough online scouting report on Ter Stegen, the man, expected to replace our Catalan commander between the posts. And boy, am I pleased to read everything that’s been said about him.

    As much as it sucks to lose one of our captains and pillars of this team, I’m glad to know that at least from a pure sporting perspective, MATS will be a good replacement, if not an upgrade from VV. Only drawbacks I can see are that he’s not Catalan and may not come off his area at the drop of the hat to fight with dirty Madridistas.

    • Peter says:

      OT Comment:

      Pinto is not a Catalan either, and he doesn’t even need a justification to roll up his sleeves and get in the brawl. It has to do with temperament and dressing room attitude. And experience.

      He truly has some huge gloves to fill, but he will be required to conduct the defence pretty soon. Once he has gained the trust and respect of his fellow teammates, once he himself acknowledges that he belongs in Barcelona, he’d be right there with the rest of them – even though in Barcelona it’s the “old dogs” that generally participate in the altercations. Still, he can score some major points with some timely interventions.

      BTW, would you be willing to share your conclusions of the online scouting report? Not here, of course, but you will be calming lots of troubled cules. :D

  13. Levon says:

    I guess I should have stayed out of it (but now it’s too late). I might not share the majority opinion, but it doesn’t mean I am out to hurt anybody with mine.

    Not one person reacted to my suggestion that females should be allowed to enter the male pro leagues. Those who make it will get recognized and paid accordingly. It is also the most equalitarian solution. After all, we don’t separate the sexes in other jobs, do we?

    • blitzen says:

      You mean your suggestion that the bulk of female athletes be paid less simply because they are women? No, I feel no need to respond to that.

      • Levon says:

        You don’t need to get snarky because it was not a put-down. and no, I am not suggesting that the bulk of female athletes be paid less simply because they are women. Quite the opposite, in fact, and it is a damn shame people can’t discuss this topic without feeling offended.

        There are very few professional female soccer leagues in the world, and none that generate anywhere near the income that the male leagues do. I am suggesting to open the door for them to earn more money and respect. I am sure some of the women are good enough to play in a male league.

        • Levon says:

          Whoah a lot of people already replied above before I got the chance to sneek in this answer… Gotta run to the store and do some ironing. Will come back and read your comments with interest.

    • Kxevin says:

      Your assertion is like women saying that if men would like an egalitarian role in the household, they should bear children. “But men can’t bear children.” Exactly. What nature does is beyond any of our control. So it is with strength, physicality and muscularity.

      If female athletes want the same awards/salaries as men then they should campaign to compete with men directly instead of in separate female leagues. We’ll see how many make the NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB, UFC and top soccer squads in various leagues around Europe.

      In fact, there are many sports where women do indeed have fiscal equality, and don’t have to compete with men to get what should be their rightful due in a just world. Tennis, for one. It took them a long time to get there, in part because of the same worldview that pervades other sports persisted there for a very long time. “Them girls don’t hit as hard as the big strong men, so why should I pay them the same?” But people eventually came to their senses. This is as it should be.

      When Serena Williams wins a tournament against her peers, she is working no less hard than Roger Federer does against his. Arguably she works HARDER, because the rallies are often longer in the women’s game. To suggest that if she wants equal prize money, she should enter the men’s draw isn’t supportable from any worldview except one that leads to stuff like the Lingerie Football League. (Which actually does exist, despite many thinking it’s a joke when they first hear about it.)

      I can suggest that the above might be a possible reason nobody picked up on your contention. It isn’t supportable from any framework except as one that builds a solid foundation for keeping female athletes as second-class citizens. “You can’t compete with the men so take your fraction of what they get. Or stay home and knit tea cozies, or make me a sandwich.”

      It’s wrong. So wrong that it verges on stunning, and renders me speechless.

      • barca96 says:

        Off topic butta… Erm.. How on earth did you find out about the Lingerie Football League in the first place :lol:

        Btw, Serena and Venus Williams consistently serve the ball faster than most men (especially on their 2nd serve). They definitely do not lack power compete with men. I wish they would at least have an exhibition match with a male player.

        Not a pro tournament, it might end embarrassingly bad like Michelle Wie did a decade ago although I am pretty sure Serena Williams is much much better in her field than Michelle Wie was back then.

        • blitzen says:

          I don’t know about Kxevin, but here in Toronto the Lingerie Football League was front-page news in the local Sun tabloid, especially since the daughter of one of our city councilors had signed up (Doug Ford’s daughter, niece of Rob Ford, yes, that Rob Ford). The local “team” has since been disbanded due to lack of interest.

    • Peter says:

      Yeah right, which is why females on average take much more time to rise in the career or why on average women get paid less. Because there’s not separation of the sexes.

      The suggestion is cool in abstract, but it probably won’t accomplish anything, mostly because of physical limitations. And your argument is crooked – the egalitarian solution would be equal funding, not “if by some remote chance you can cut it with the MEN, THEN you get to ask for same pay”, which some refer to as “equal opportunity”(except it isn’t).
      Nevermind the grabbing and holding and shirt-pulling that takes place in football would turn nastier if there were women, especially beautiful women with toned bodies, around.

      I would reserve my guess as to why nobody else has responded to your suggestion, but it must be self-evident to you as well, right?

    • Peter says:

      Oh well, so there were responses after all.

      P.S. Kxevin, would you please share some links to the Lingerie Football League? :P

    • raj says:

      I must say, this is enlightening. Thanks everyone for the conversations. Esp Lev for playing the devils advocate (is my definition of devils advocate right?)
      Let me sort my position coz that is what I need to, I’m torn on where I stand.

      1. To answer Lev, no, you can’t mix them up like in other jobs coz the other jobs are not a contest of physical abilities. Which is is exactly your point: Purely objectively, men are faster and stronger which are requisites in outdoor games which makes them more interesting to the general viewer. Hence men’s games are more marketable. That makes the outdoor sports dominated by men as it ought to be(If that sounds sexist to anyone, it is not).

      2. But then, if you take into consideration the mental abilities and intricate skills which are beyond physical capabilities, there will be women who will outplay majority of men in these areas. But when people barely know that football is played by women too, how will they notice if some lady possesses the skills of a messi or xavi? When the female football itself doesn’t matter to a certain Ibra, it is hard to imagine that he considers the skills of the individual female athletes and the work they put in.

      3. It is oranges to apples if you compare the two like Kxevin said, you need to respect the women for their work which is at least equal to men.

      Having said that, they DO NOT deserve the money or the recognition that men get simply because they are not biologically suited to play the best football. They do perform to their best abilities but their best simply isn’t good (enough). So, if FCB’s women team isn’t given the same recognition as men’s, I am OK with that (so is every one here I guess). At the same time, it hurts that the Real Madrid guys think that a Real women’s team is a waste of time. You may not assign awesomeness to them, but you MUST respect them for what they do bring to the table (which is quite good)

      4. Ibra’s comments clearly do not come from this understanding. It is OK as long he says that you can’t compare the women and men’s football without being wrong, but when he is ‘devalued’ by comparisons of him against a women athlete, the first sentence loses its genuineness. Women athletes may not get the money and attention, but they should not be insulted. They earn all the respect they can get by virtue of their skills and hard work. So, as I see it, Ibra is sexist. Saying something like Kxevin suggested would have been perfect for Ibra. You cannot argue that he may have answered better if he thought about it more, coz he simply doesn’t have intellect to reach that level of understanding (which is obvious from his overall observations)

      I may have contradicted myself above or may have committed a logical fallacy or two. But then, I couldn’t resist saying something (even if it has already been said!)

      • blitzen says:

        So, if FCB’s women team isn’t given the same recognition as men’s, I am OK with that (so is every one here I guess).

        You really shouldn’t make assumptions about other people’s opinions. Really.

        • raj says:

          I probably shouldn’t, my apologies. But I surely wonder if those who actually follow the women’s football team like the mens team form a minority here. Am I wrong?

  14. Huckleberry says:

    It would be the same as to let all the boxer fight in the same weight devision.

    There are indeed sports like figure skating or gymnastics, where men would certainly lose against women applying the same standarts, but because most of the sports are originally men sports and build on athletism, there are not many.

    • blitzen says:

      Good point, Huckleberry. Why have different weight classes? Why shouldn’t smaller men have to compete against larger ones? May the best athlete win, right?

      • Jim says:

        Why should my less able kids have to compete against the more able ones in exams?

        • Jim says:

          At the risk of answering my own question it’s because life isn’t fair. They work every bit as hard ( to answer Kxevin’s Serena point) as the more able kids. Should they be given the same results?

          I’m gonna add some support to Lev here. I thought his answer was pretty measured and certainly a fair view to hold. I don’t have really strong views on this but probably do feel stronger about the way on this topic there are certain views seen as more acceptable than others. I’m never a great fan of people getting a hard time for their opinions. In all honesty would I cross the street to watch women’s football? Probably not. Just as I wouldn’t thank you for the Wimbledon ticket I had two years ago which ended up with two ladies’ singles matches in a row where they worked really hard but batted it back and forward until I was bored rigid. Should I not have been bored? Does it make me a bad person? Anyone lucky enough to have watched Federer live at his peak knows that it is not his physicality or strength which set him apart but his eye for a ball, timing and the way he floats above the ground.

          I just feel that things get a bit touchy whenever this subject is aired ….. which is why I should have followed my own advice and stayed out of it :)

          • PrinceYuvi says:

            Whoa, Jim. Thanks so much for pulling Federer out of Trouble there. Not a joke. I mean it.

  15. barca96 says:

    I hope he will be like the traditional German goalies like Kahn, Lehmann, Neur, etc. in the sense that he can command and conquer his area.

  16. Archie says:

    Dear Isaiah and all,

    Couple of bits:

    Women tennis players (still?) don’t play best of 5 set matches. There is no data that women are less able to withstand endurance tests. Total BS, IMO.

    Women’s tennis is arguably more interesting TV watching than men’s. Since 90’s, women play with more visible skill while men just smash the ball. Opposite results to the same change of variable: better racquet technology.

    Soccer and tennis are decent comparisons, because there are some variables in both that allow skill to interrupt power. Can happen in basketball, but rarely does anymore due to change in style of game, although LeBron would have more rings if it weren’t for some consummate team play.

    That Xavi and Iniesta can beat CR and GB should shed some light on the possibilities for women’s sport to be as entertaining as men’s. I think we have seen this with the japanese national team.

    My solution for everything futball related: more futsall for the youths, regardless of gender.

    In the US there has been an epidemic of serious knee injuries among girls playing soccer. It has been addressed somewhat by changing exercise regimes.

    Professional sport is entertainment. If there is an audience that spends a lot of money, then there will be professionals.

    • Jim says:

      Speaking as a very poor tennis player it takes a lot more skill to return a ball hit hard at you than one that isn’t. Everything has to be done quicker which requires much better hand/eye co-ordination. It is of course down to personal preference which one is better to watch. What I would give you is that I enjoy watching women’s golf every bit as much as men’s. However, that’s because their swings are a lot closer to mine than the men’s and I can learn more.

  17. rg23 says:

    I certainly do believe that women who work just as hard deserve the same compensation that their male counterparts do. However, deserve’s got nothing to do with it. The crux of the problem as some people have already alluded to is the funding that goes in to the game. I don’t mean the funding from government, but private funding generated from self interests. In most leagues, and certainly the most profitable ones the funding is based on viewership and sponsors and TV rights, owned by private companies with shareholders.
    So the compensation becomes more of a function of supply and demand. In a more socialist environment male and female athletes get paid the same amount for equal efforts/achievements. But capitalism doesn’t allow for that.
    We pay to watch what we want to watch. That’s where the dominance for the male soccer players start to kick in. It’s just a statement of fact that players like Messi and Ronaldo will simply generate a lot more interest, viewership, ticket sales and hence money than lets say Martha, Wambach or a Mia Hamm. Hence they get paid their dues. Now that’s not to say there is no interest at all in the women’s game. I certainly love to follow certain teams in the women’s game as I am sure do many others. But we would still be a group in the minority. Strictly from a numbers perspective, that interest doesn’t even come close to what the men’s leagues generate.
    Who is to “blame” for that? I would say society. All of us put together generate those demand stats that CEOs look at. But then again, I am not so sure you can put the blame on society as much as call it people’s preferences. You pay for what you want to consume.
    I am not convinced that is something that can be changed through just aggressive marketing. One thing I do firmly believe in is, if there was money to be made in it, people would have figured it out by now. It’s the nature of greed. That’s why they pay the marketing gurus the big bucks.
    Now in some areas such as tennis, people have successfully figured it out. But then again, there is a real demand in viewership for the women’s game there. Will soccer ever reach that stage? I am not so sure. I certainly do hope so.

    PS: I would love to see a mixed World Cup, just the way tennis has it’s mixed doubles championship at the grand slams! If only there was enough interest in it to generate mass viewership!

  18. Messiah10 says:

    I’m proud as an American that this is less of an issue then it is in other countries. Especially in footie. Abbey Waumbach has gained a lot of respect for her play and achievements in the Womens USA team. The entire nation were with them when they won the WC and Gold Medal recently. The sad thing is that when the National team doesn’t play, they don’t have the coverage and promotion for their Womens league to carry over that enthusiasm.
    I completely agree with Kxevin on the WNBA. They play basketball the way it’s supposed to be played. Like the Celtics and Lakers did in the 80’s. Fundamental & TEAM basketball. The NBA today is so boring. I stopped watching it 10 years ago because it’s all isolation, one vs one, no movement of the ball, boring basketball. College is much more entertaining and played the way basketball should be played. I’m a former high level athlete and basketball was one of the sports I excelled at. I know the game well. In college I saw womens intramural teams run circles around mens teams. So it’s not about level of performance for me. It’s about years and years of discrimination and sexism. It wasn’t to long ago Women didn’t have the right to vote. It wasn’t to long ago there were no Womens high school sports teams. Women, minorities, & the LGBT communities have had to fight for everything they’ve been able to do. Us(white, male, Anglo-Saxons)haven’t given them anything. Ibra is an idiot. Always will be. Is it news worthy because HE said it? No. It’s newsworthy because he’s not alone. Unfortunately, he’s probably supported by a great many men.

    • Calvin says:

      WNY Flash is my team!

      Wambach, Alex Morgan, Marta, and a host of other talents have all played for my local women’s team.

    • Cule says:

      This has nothing to do with sexism or discrimination. People are unbelievable sensitive about these kind of topics. Ibrahimovic is not an idiot, he speaks the truth.

      Sexism is a serious issue, and the people who are crying about Ibra being sexist are the idiots. If you ever witness actual sexism, your head would explode.

      Women not having a right to vote, that was sexist. Female professional footballers being paid less than their male counterparts is the furthest thing from sexism, and claiming other wise is just ignorance.

      Instead of calling Ibra an idiot, maybe point out how his words were idiotic. Cause all he said was women should be paid according to what they generate. It’s clear that almost everybody prefers men’s football, and because it is obviously on a way higher level. You can argue about the women working are just as hard as the men, but that’s not how this world works. Results are what matter (when it comes to salaries), not effort.

      Why are people flipping out over nothing? Is it that joke he made about female palyers being given bikes? Get off your high horses, you have never seen real sexism, I’m 100 % sure of that.

      • blitzen says:

        I’m a woman. I experience “actual sexism” every day. And I find your comment extremely offensive.

      • Peter says:

        Sorry dude, but you would require a surgery in order to extricate that giant foot out of your mouth.

        • Cule says:

          I guess you proved me wrong, well said.

          • Peter says:

            I was as diplomatic and brief as possible under the circumstances. If you so desire I could write more, but I’m not sure it’s worth the trouble, given your presented point of view* and the extremely low probability of any effect.

            * – a joke in philosophy is that a person starts totally open, with unrestricted field of “view”. Then the field of view(s) begins to narrow, until the person can see nothing but a point on the horizon. Then that person can claim “This is my point of view”.

        • Temple says:

          Now, this is EXTREMELY offensive!
          What? Don’t go ad hominem, please. Thank you.

          • Cule says:

            @Peter and Temple,

            If you don’t want to have a discussion why bother replying? If you think I was offensive at least tell me how. No need to write an essay, but what’s the point of replying with no substance?

            Views on what is offensive is subjective. Where I grew up, if a woman leaves her husband, he can call the police on her, and they will bring her back to him. Maybe it’s because I’m used to extreme sexism, that I find what Ibrahimovich said to be an absolute non-issue.

            Whatever the case, this is an internet blog that is meant for discussion, and I’m trying to have one. If you have nothing to contribute other than stating that you are offended, don’t bother replying.

          • Peter says:

            @Cule,

            Exactly, you being witness to extreme sexism(For the record I don’t think it should be called just sexism, because it involves suspension and infringement of what in the Western World are considered basic human rights) doesn’t invalidate the existence of “light forms” of sexism. To use an example from justice, manslaughter is not the same as homicide, which is not the same as mass murder or multiple murder. But they’re all crimes that result in the death of human beings.

            I know that the type of defense “you don’t have it as bad, so don’t complain, instead be glad you don’t have it as bad” can be very tempting, but it holds no water. Context is very, very important.

            I have to confess I’m very subjective on that topic, because I’m very protective of my sister and I’ve experienced the effects of sexism and abuse that have left their mark on three generations of my extended family(maternal grandmother, mother and my sister and me).

  19. Levon says:

    Could there be fiscal equality in tennis because tennis fans enjoy and pay to watch both the males and females perform? I’m guessing here, because I don’t watch that sport and I don’t know many people that do.

    “To suggest that if she wants equal prize money, she should enter the men’s draw isn’t supportable from any worldview except one that leads to stuff like the Lingerie Football League”

    I think this discussion is difficult enough without attributing such ridiculous worldviews towards my person, thank you very much.

    @Peter

    “Yeah right, which is why females on average take much more time to rise in the career or why on average women get paid less. Because there’s not separation of the sexes.”

    It doesn’t really invalidate my suggestion, but you are making a good point. There exists no reason anybody shouldn’t get paid the same when doing the same job at the same level due to their sex and the fact that it is a common reality in a lot of countries is a disgrace.

    “And your argument is crooked – the egalitarian solution would be equal funding, not “if by some remote chance you can cut it with the MEN, THEN you get to ask for same pay”, which some refer to as “equal opportunity”(except it isn’t).”

    Disagree. Plenty of professional male soccer leagues in the world, and almost no professional female leagues. I am sure that based on techique and mental abilities there are women out there good enough to cut it with the men.

    It is the equal funding argument which is crooked imo, because the female leagues don’t generate enough money. More on that below.

    “Nevermind the grabbing and holding and shirt-pulling that takes place in football would turn nastier if there were women, especially beautiful women with toned bodies, around.”

    Don’t be silly. I have played sports with beaufitul women and I “managed” to do so without sexually molesting them. This is really a non-argument to me.

    @Raj

    “Esp Lev for playing the devils advocate (is my definition of devils advocate right?)”

    Not really, because I genuinely believe in what I am writing. A person that plays the devil’s advocate takes the opposite view for the sake of argument.

    @rg23

    “So the compensation becomes more of a function of supply and demand. In a more socialist environment male and female athletes get paid the same amount for equal efforts/achievements. But capitalism doesn’t allow for that.”

    Agreed on the supply & demand part of your reasoning. But as a socialist I don’t see why athletes who fill 50,000 seats in the stadium and millions of followers on TV should subsidize others who attract a mere fraction of the interest.

    Socialism as I support it would simply tax the male players (along with other high earners in our society) a whole lot more and use that money for schools, hospitals, raising of minimum wage, etc, etc.

    People, whether they are men or women, are privileged to play sports for a living. Most of us on this here planet earth just get by (or less).

    “I am not so sure you can put the blame on society as much as call it people’s preferences. You pay for what you want to consume.
    I am not convinced that is something that can be changed through just aggressive marketing. One thing I do firmly believe in is, if there was money to be made in it, people would have figured it out by now. It’s the nature of greed. That’s why they pay the marketing gurus the big bucks.
    Now in some areas such as tennis, people have successfully figured it out. But then again, there is a real demand in viewership for the women’s game there. Will soccer ever reach that stage? I am not so sure.”

    I think Kxevin’s comparison with tennis is an interesting one, because it is cool that both sexes enjoy popularity among fans. I really don’t see it happening in soccer, though, because unlike any other sport in the world, the market is already saturated with so many top quality leagues to watch (Liga, EPL, Serie A, Bundesliga, Champion’s League, the WC, the EC). It would be extremely hard for a female league to generate enough interest to get a slice of that market. Heck, it would be hard enough (read:impossible) for me to convince the females in my home to let me watch more football as it is.

  20. Huckleberry says:

    Interestingly, most women I know (in Europe) prefer to watch men soccer and not women soccer, if they watch any soccer at all.

  21. Kxevin says:

    Let’s define sexism. This is what Webster’s has to say on the matter:

    1: prejudice or discrimination based on sex; especially: discrimination against women

    2: behavior, conditions, or attitudes that foster stereotypes of social roles based on sex

    So. Were the Ibrahimovic comments sexist? If you hold them up to the strict dictionary definition, absolutely. But sexism, or any other “ism” is like “free speech”: a misunderstood, often misused term.

    Did Ibrahimovic’s comments discriminate against women? Again, good question. By saying, in effect, they should get less money because nobody cares about their football, would lead one to believe yes.

    We should assume that his later jibe about instead of a car, giving them a bicycle with his name on it was a joke. But his outrage at the contextual comparison to Schelin is, for me, the interesting part. He had many ways to handle it, and chose the wrong one. Let’s look at a right way to handle the situation:

    “We are incredibly impressed with Therese Sjögran and Anders Svensson’s contributions to their respective teams. For us it is obvious that Therese Sjögran should get a car,” said Maria Lantz of Peugeot Sweden to Resume.

    Done.

    I don’t know if Ibrahimovic is sexist. I know he makes a habit of saying the wrong things and that his comments, when you apply the definition of sexism to them, meet the standard. So do many comments in this space.

    I am against anything that holds anyone back. Suggestions that women should only get equal compensation if they can hold their own against men grow increasingly absurd for me the more I live with them. In the business/technical workplace, the standard is intellect and effectiveness so yes, women can compete with men, once the playing field was such that they could compete.

    But to suggest that physically, Schelin shouldn’t get the same amount as a male player for Sweden, even as she and her teammates have done the same work (actually more, since they in fact qualified for the World Cup) is discrimination, and that makes it sexist. So as with anything, without knowing the person, we can’t say that Ibrahimovic is sexist. We can say that his words were sexist.

    In this space, people have offered various explanations why, for them, women don’t deserve fiscal equality in sport. For me, none of them hold water. Some rely on a physical standard, which discriminates against the person who cannot meet it. As someone suggested earlier, a welterweight should, if he wants to get paid like a heavyweight, fight a heavyweight, by the same logic. Which would argue for discarding weight divisions, and just putting all boxers in the same pot. Absurd? Good question.

    Others say “Nobody cares.” At the professional level, where TV contracts and spectator draws enter the picture, a results-based argument can be made. Who do the fans care about? If a team is doing poorly and fewer fans go, what happens to player salaries? Nothing. They might get a bit less TV money, but they still suck and are fiscally doing just fine. Why is that okay, just because they are male?

    What is sport about? Results? Another good question. If it is, then the Sweden women, who are ranked No. 7 in the world by FIFA and are going to the World Cup, should in fact get MORE compensation than the men, who are ranked 27th and will be watching the WC on TV.

    Sweden’s federation, I would rather imagine, cares most about who is representing the country best in international competition. That is the women. The U.S. women are ranked No. 1. The U.S. men are ranked 17th. Again, what is the rating standard?

    “Well, it’s easier for them because they are scoring against girls,” would suggest the inequality proponents. Why, if they are playing against their peers, just as male players are? Do Messi’s goals against Levante count less than his goals against Atleti? In that contextual world, they should.

    Isaiah lays out Schelin’s accomplishments above, but let me condense them here:

    A Messiesque 138 goals in 140 matches
    5 titles with Lyon
    2 Champions League titles
    2 Coupe de France

    By any standard, that’s pretty good. Ibrahimovic has one Ligue 1 title, zero Champions League titles, etc. To my view, with a brain in his head, he says “I should be so lucky to do as well as Lotta. I admire and respect what she does,” instead of the outraged verbal blasts that he offered up, because here’s the thing: in both players’ respective contexts, the comparison is valid.

    To reduce the Ibrahimovic statements to a mere discussion of fiscal matters and how they relate to the footballing world at large, does the subject, the debate and the excellent post that precipitated it a disservice. It also hides the point, which is that a player stuck his foot in his mouth and made sexist comments.

    • Cule says:

      “Did Ibrahimovic’s comments discriminate against women? Again, good question. By saying, in effect, they should get less money because nobody cares about their football, would lead one to believe yes.”

      I disagree. If he says they should be paid less because nobody cares about their football, then that is exactly what he meant. Nobody cares about their football. It is not because they are women, it’s because nobody cares about their football. This is not sexism, sir.

      “What is sport about? Results? Another good question. If it is, then the Sweden women, who are ranked No. 7 in the world by FIFA and are going to the World Cup, should in fact get MORE compensation than the men, who are ranked 27th and will be watching the WC on TV.”

      Results in professional sports are revenue based, stadiums being full, a lot of TV viewers, and a few other things. Basically, what brings in the money. In this aspect, men’s football brings in so much more it’s not comparable, and thus men are paid more. Really, that’s all it is.

      Ibrahimovic did not mock Schelin’s accomplishments, he was mocking the question of “Who is the better player” between the two, which frankly, is laughable.

      • Temple says:

        I posted this here, because I couldn’t find any “reply” button below your addressed comment to me.
        So, Cule, I wasn’t referring to you. Patently, I was against Peter’s “but you would require a surgery
        in order to extricate that giant foot out of your mouth.”, which I found very offensive, and an ad hominem bromide. :)

    • norden says:

      To the “Which would argue for discarding weight divisions, and just putting all boxers in the same pot. Absurd?”

      I don’t think it’s an absurd idea, but I guess that in these sports where people are hurting each other and eventualy someone may die, some kind of balance must be enforced to minimize the risk.

      But I don’t follow boxing, so I may be wrong.

      • Peter says:

        The original comparison with boxing came after a suggestion that female footballers be allowed to enter men’s pro leagues, and if they manage to cut it, be given the corresponding pay and recognition. That was stated as the egalitarian solution.

  22. Temple says:

    To me, apart from being a knucklehead, contextually (using Sweden as the touchstone), Zlatan’s comments were sexist.
    But, good respect to the Swedish Female Team, I equally find it ridiculous he was compared directly to a female player. Yep, Schelin’s record tracks on sticker and tabloid spawners, but the direct comparison to Zlatan by that journalist is insane. And I find the motive of such comparison curious, as much as it’d knock me down when you ask who’s the better player between Ronaldinho and Martha, or Messi and Wanbach, et c. Or to move an awkward stretch and compare Messi with Thiago Silva. Such direct comparisons are claptrap.

    The Swedish Female Team, no squabble, by work and achievement, justly deserve about anything that could be accorded their Male opposites. However, some claims made in this part rankles me.

    Quote per Kxevin:
    “In this space, people have offered various
    explanations why, for them, women don’t deserve fiscal equality in sport. For me, none of
    them hold water. Some rely on a physical
    standard, which discriminates against the
    person who cannot meet it. As someone
    suggested earlier, a welterweight should, if he
    wants to get paid like a heavyweight, fight a
    heavyweight, by the same logic. Which would
    argue for discarding weight divisions, and just
    putting all boxers in the same pot. Absurd?
    Good question.”

    Dropping the context of equality in the Swedish Football parts, generally, I disagree with you.
    The explanation bolted out for why Women Football don’t deserve equal fiscal rates hold much water. Reason, they don’t generate as great audience as Men Football. Simples. To absorb the Fiscal rates in Men Football, so as to interpolate within the Women opposites, is criminal. Thus, in a generic football context, Zlatan’s “pay in relation to what you generate” statement is true, and contain no swat of sexism.

    Beside, I think your “separate weight division” contrast in Boxing is slippery and it is not analagous to Women Football, particularly as other divisions attract about the same audience as the Heavyweights, with the same or very close pays.

  23. ooga aga says:

    game tomorrow! atletico won today 1-0 vs malaga.

  24. njwv says:

    The weight division analogy is relevant because the only reason people have offered for why the women’s game is not as popular is because they can’t compete directly with the men. As you note, the lighter weight boxers can be hugely popular. It’s clear that a man can be a revenue generator by being the best in just his class rather than being the best overall.

    So the question for all the ones justifying the difference in reward for women than for men is to explain why women are inherently less marketable even if they do better in their class than their male counterparts.

    • Temple says:

      Njwv.
      “The weight division analogy is relevant because the only reason people have offered for why the women’s game is not as popular is because they can’t compete directly with the men. As you note, the lighter weight boxers can be hugely popular. It’s clear that a man can be a revenue generator by being the best in just his class rather than being the best overall.”

      I feel you’re misrepresenting things. The argument was based on the raison why Women Football has a lower fiscal rate compared to the Men opposites. For the most part, the raison bolted was due to the much lesser audience they attract. Beside, the other Weight Divisions in Boxing draw about as the same audience with the Heavyweights. So the analogy is knocked down, doesn’t fit with Women Football, and so, is irrelevant.

      • Levon says:

        No. It was initially presented as to why women wouldn’t be able to compete directly with men.

        However the somehow widely lauded argument does not take into account at all the differences between the two sports. Soccer is a team sport rather than a a 1 vs 1 contest of power and awe. As such, physical strength, speed and agility are a more determining factor in boxing than in soccer, where a player like Xavi Hernandez is considered one of the world’s best despite not being particularly fast or strong.

        I could be wrong and it might not be feasible. I was discussing this over dinner yesterday and my father-in-law told me that the Williams sisters played a guy once and got annihilated (and then I looked it up http://observer.theguardian.com/osm/story/0,,543962,00.html ).

        I also think that during this discussion people have been very quick to paint other people’s comments and opinions with the sexist brush. Obviously going by the Webster’s definition, those accusations become very easy. If I say that women cry more than men, does that make me sexist? Women are better drivers than men. Men are physically stronger than women. Women average higher IQ’s than men. These statements can all be construed as discriminatory, and some confirm existing stereotypes. But there is not one falsehood among them.

        I personally think women are wonderful. I admire them and have no problem admitting that they are the stronger sex. I have been raised by women and I have been fortunate enough to spend most of my life living with many different women.

        Taken at face value, I respectfully disagree with the notion that Ibrahimovic’s words were sexist. It is not up to him to decide the context in which the public put his words. He actually gave us the opposite of “doubletalk”. If anything, he was extremely direct.

        And just like other people are insulted by his comments (and some comments on this thread), I am insulted by the idea that my comments are deemed sexist by some. Out of curiosity I showed this article and the comments to four females in my household. None felt insulted by Ibrahimovic’s remarks (although my girlfriend and her mother laughed and said he was “mean”) and three thought it ridiculous the idea that women should receive the same compensation (or even a car!) for their exploits on the football field, because “nobody cares” (their words, not mine). The fourth one started crying halfway through, but I think that she was hungry (she is only 5 weeks old!).

        Now we have a game to watch. Visca el Barça!

        • SoccerMom says:

          I might be beating a dead horse here, but since the horse is dead already it won’t bother him so much …

          First of all, you might as well ask Ibra who better rocks a bikini, him or Kate Upton? Or who is a bigger star, him or Polaris? You’ll get the same answer (in a curiously awkward English translation): “What, you are kidding with me?” After all, this is the guy who wrote an autobiography at, like, 30 entitled “I am Zlatan”. Possible subtitles: “What Is That?” and “Who Are You?” Remember how he reacted when he thought that Pep didn’t like-like him? Gerard Pique had to practically have an affair with him before he could turn that frown upside down. A little.

          Second, there is no such thing as a “should”. A “should” is not an “is”. A should is a “want”. An “I want”. “Women athletes should be paid as much as men” = I want women athletes to be paid as much as men. “Major league teams should have female squads” = I want major league teams to have female squads. That’s all fine and dandy — after all, there are no “should not’s”, either. There is no more reason for a major league franchise to have a female squad than there are reasons for a major league franchise to *not* have a female squad. To each his or her own.

          Third, it is very risky to assume that just because Ibra thinks (aloud) that he is a better athlete than Lotta means that Xavi thinks (silently) that he, himself, is not. Want a lady-lingerie football league? You could stack a whole bench (pun only incidentally intended) with Carles Puyol’s ex-girlfriends. David Villa’s wife is a former footballer. Did he squash her sporting ambitions and smush her into one of those tiny Iberian kitchens to birth him some babies while he went on to pursue World Cup dreams, or does he find it beautiful that she understands a 4-3-3? How the heck do you know, anywWay? You don’t!

          Fourth, sports is so commercialized these days that it is inevitable that commercialized sex creeps in too. Maria Sharapova doesn’t get those camera ads because of her wicked backhand. (Too, Roger Federer makes better face than Rafa for Rolex.) When the Wimbledon ladies don baggie tees and knee-length shorts, you let me know. Oh, and do you know what Serena Williams truly wants to be? More than a tennis champ? A manicurist! For real! (These are the things you find out when you read Vogue rather than Marca.) Like Mia Hamm had no idea that when she decided to celebrate a goal by ripping her shirt off that her endorsement numbers would skyrocket. She just wanted to be like the guys! But hot! In her bra! Gimme a break.

          Fifth, there are an awful lot of BFB ladies, me shameless but also guiltlessly included, who don’t protest a nicely pixelated photo of a particularly gifted athletic physique. So we can comment all kinds of coos and squeals on here, but can you imagine the reaction if one of our male mods were to remark upon the hotness factor of a “lady athlete” (I think it is adorable, btw, how many times our gentlemen commentators refer to “ladies” in this thread! So cute!) Oh, the indignation!

          Finally, as a co-ed little league barely-background checked soccer coach, I can assure you that in childhood there are little girls who kick ass and take names, and little boys who stare at the ball as if someone had slipped acid into their Snoopy water bottle. I suppose a major difference is the fact that when little boys get bored with a game, they wander off to pee in the woods, and when little girls get bored, they do cartwheels in the midfield.

          Cheers!

          • mom4 says:

            I was soooooo gonna stay out of this…but really…best comment ever, Soma.

            For the record, I find women’s team sports a bit less fun to watch than men’s. Why??? speed, athleticism, maybe something to do with Soma’s pixilated photo…but mostly personal preference. That being said, I’d love to see a bit more about our own Barca women’s team here. They fight for our colors and we should support them. Somebody *cough* nzm *cough* should write a regular column???

            I can understand the salary disparity between male and female athletes at the CLUB LEVEL as this is a market driven thing. The market for a product has to be there for the providers of said product to get paid. HOWEVER, male athletes and female athletes representing their country should be accorded the same level of support, respect, and privilege.

            BANGS is BANGS. Expect an I am Zlatan answer to every question.

          • dl says:

            Very level headed comment. thx.

  25. TITO says:

    In the other news, Eusebio passed away today. A legend.

  26. PrinceYuvi says:

    Er, So What’s the Final Verdict ?

  27. SoccerMom says:

    I have been mulling it over and this is what I came up with …

    1) Re: Ibrahimovic. For the answer to any question, expect the following answer:

    “I Am Zlatan”

    Interpret accordingly.

    2) Re: Laurent Blanc. Curiously enough, my personal response changes depending on what “is” is (allowing, of course, for whatever may be lost in translation):

    “It is beautiful that a woman understands the difference between 4-4-2 and 4-3-3.”

    Yeah, huh. I dunno. I really don’t.

    Now:

    “It is cute that a woman understands the difference between 4-4-2 and 4-3-3.”

    Totally patronizing. Especially irritating:

    “It is so cute that a woman understands the difference between 4-4-2 and 4-3-3!”

    Infuriating, even:

    “It is so cute that a woman understands the difference between 4-4-2 and 4-3-3!” and then reaches out to pinch my cheeks.

    Now, what about:

    “It is sexy that a woman understands the difference between 4-4-2 and 4-3-3.”

    This depends on who is speaking.

    If the speaker is Laurent, I would roll my eyes.

    If the speaker is Laurent and he wiggles his eyebrows while saying it, I would laugh out loud.

    If the speaker is Laurent and he says this while reaching out to pinch my cheeks, he is going to get one of those jab-jab-cross combos I practice with Jillian Michaels on my VCR.

    If the speaker is Alexis, regardless of the gesture he makes, I would text Blitzen asap to let her know that the feeling is mutual and that she should probably totally call him and they can talk all kinds of sexy strategy together.

    Now, what about:

    “It is cool that a woman understands the difference between 4-4-2 and 4-3-3.”

    If Laurent said that to me, I’d lean back in my chair and be all cool about it and wait for him to answer my question.

    If someone I thought was pretty cool said that to me, I’d feel pretty cool about myself. Even if Ibra said that to me, I’d be all like, “that’s right I’m cool yo” in a Jessie-from-Breaking-Bad kind of way.

    If Xavi said that to me, I’d fall over myself to text SoMo4 so that she could totally call Xavi and they could be all friends and he could join the LoveBlob with us when he was sitting out a match.

    Now if someone REALLY SUPER cool, like MESSI, said that to me, I’d first see stars and then pass out in a very uncool, ugly way, like drooling out of the corner of my mouth on the floor kind of way, until I came to and then I’d fall over myself to get to my phone and text everyone here that MESSI TOTALLY SAID — WELL IMPLIED BUT CLOSE ENOUGH — THAT I WAS COOL OMG.

    Now back to the original quote.

    If the speaker is David Villa, regardless of what gestures he makes, I would be completely vindicated in my belief that he is a super awesome manly dude married to a beautiful lady athlete with three gorgeous daughters to whom he dedicated his near-miraculous-return-from-devastating-injury goal on the second-best t-shirt reveal EVER.

    Which is just the kind of manly-man sporto gesture that make old school femmies like me all warm and teary.

  28. Temple says:

    Hahaha. A lighter take on a seemingly touchy issue that got me so cracked up that I mistakenly kissed my friend’s fiancee. Now, that trolls on criminal. But you’re beautiful like that, SoMa!

    PS, got a Twitter Handle?

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