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Monday, Feb. 26
The Indiana Daily Student

opinion women's soccer

COLUMN: Fair play for female athletes

FIFA is as sexist as it is corrupt

Raise your hand if you watched more than one soccer match in the 2014 Men’s World Cup last summer.

Keep your hand up if you watched the United States face-off with Germany in the Women’s World Cup semifinals Tuesday. Hand still raised?

While the men’s FIFA games received overwhelming television coverage, worldwide admiration and probably some bizarre, fan-crazed rituals, the Women’s World Cup seems ?overlooked.

Unfortunately, it is nothing new for women’s sports to receive less coverage than men’s, unless the headline has something to do with skintight uniforms or an unexpected catfight on the field.

And FIFA itself is certainly high on the list of offenders when it comes to sexism and gender discrimination in women’s sports, not to mention the strings of corruption and bribery charges already under its belt — but that’s another matter entirely.

U.S. club teams pay women between $6,000 and $30,000 annually, while their male counterparts can earn up to $7.1 million. And while the great Christiano Ronaldo earns a $19-million base salary, the three top-earning female soccer players in the world earned $400,000, $190,000 and $70,000, ?respectively.

Furthermore, not only does FIFA make opposing teams share hotels, it also subjects women to playing on artificial turf, which is inherently more dangerous and decreases the quality of the game substantially.

Every major men’s tournament has always been played on natural grass. It’s like they’re not even trying to be subtle.

Now give yourself a ?cookie if you can name one professional U.S. female soccer player, or any female soccer player in the world for that matter. Sorry, Mia Hamm doesn’t count.

I can assure you, women play sports, all kinds of them; we just don’t see it on TV. And not seeing it on TV ?implies it’s not important.

This gender imbalance and blatant sexism exists not only in women’s professional soccer, but also in every level in the realm of sports.

Take, for example, women’s sports at IU.

The IU women’s basketball team’s overall record last season was 15-16, quite comparable to that of the men’s: 20-14. And nobody on the women’s team was cited for illegal marijuana possession or failed multiple drug tests, either.

Now treat yourself to a nice cold beer if you can name a single female IU basketball player. Take a shot if you’ve attended at least one women’s sporting event at IU.

Still sober?

Last year, I spent $300 for men’s basketball tickets only to be utterly disappointed — hashtag so not worth it. This time around, I think I’ll forgo the men’s games and make it out to women’s varsity games instead.

I also strongly encourage every IU student to attend at least one or two women’s sporting events this year, if not more. Maybe you’ll find yourself a better team to root for.

IU Athletics should focus more attention to promoting women’s sports overall. Starting at orientation, IU should encourage incoming freshmen to check out the women’s soccer, basketball or field hockey teams for a change.

From professional soccer to the local high school basketball team, these women are athletes. They are athletes who train just as hard for just as long, with just as much dedication, passion and ferocity as their male ?counterparts.

They deserve equal respect, attention and appreciation as the guys. And the day the world recognizes female athletes simply as athletes we may finally know equality.

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