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Women’s Soccer and How It Is Better Than Men’s

July 26th, 2017 · 1 Comment · Fifa, Football, soccer

This post was inspired by a piece that appeared in The Telegraph, a British newspaper, in 2015, during the Fifa Women’s World Cup.

In it, the author came up with “11 reasons why women’s football is better than men’s

I have been watching women’s soccer for the past few weeks, and thinking about it, as the distaff version of the European Championship moves along in The Netherlands.

And going through The Telegraph piece from two years ago … I find that I agree with several of the author’s claims, especially pertaining to wealth, simulation/cheating and ego.

Here are the five that resonate with me, with my comments:

1. Their players are less hate-able

“One of the main problems with top-level men’s football is the insufferable players. There are exceptions, sure, but on the whole they’re overpaid, over-entitled, oversexed, over-styled spoilt brats. All ostentatious bling, designer logos, phallic sports cars, mock-Tudor mansions, ‘banter’, ‘roasting’, sleeve tattoos and hair gel. The women’s game isn’t blighted with nearly as much preening, posing or all-round prickery.”

(Got this one cold; players in Europe’s top leagues make crazy money, which would be slightly less offensive if they regularly had to face the media and perhaps even mingle with fans. Which is the case with athletes in the major U.S. sports. Euro stars may go years without doing a one-on-one interview or making any sort of public appearance for which they do not get paid. They may be no worse than your average ballplayer or NBA guy, but they seem like it.)

2. There’s less play-acting and time-wasting

“The men’s game is embarrassingly cynical, with the big wusses diving and feigning injury if someone so much as farts in their general direction. Women’s football is far more phlegmatic. A study shows that on average, men stay down 30 seconds longer than women after being fouled. … The women’s game also features more actual action. The same study found that men take 10 seconds longer to get off the field when substituted and 30 seconds longer celebrating a goal.”

(This is huge. This is meaningful. Diving less often and getting up more quickly … give the women props for that. I have been watching women’s game, and I am trying to figure out the “diving” bits, in particular. Is it a sort of collective belief they cannot emulate men when it comes to the bogus drama of the fake injury? Or is it (and I hope this is it) that they cannot bring themselves to embrace simulation? Anyway, we have seen women get roughed up, in this Euro tournament, in ways that would leave elite men’s players writhing on the ground for several minutes … and the women bounce right back up.)

3. The money is less obscene

“It’s supply and demand, obviously, but the wages in men’s football are queasily astronomical. Cristiano Ronaldo earns a 300,000 pounds-per-week base salary, and that’s before endorsements, bonuses and prize money. Compare this to England’s women, who are paid 23,000 pounds per year by the FA – pretty much bang on the national average wage. Adding on their club contracts and commercial endorsements still only totals 50,000. Yep, they earn in a year what the likes of Wayne Rooney and John Terry do in a day. … Women still play for the love of the game, not their bank balances.”

(A valid point, but not as strong as some of the others. The women’s average salary from club and country, in England, is twice that of the average Briton. “Love of the game” may be a factor but, end of day, they are doing pretty well in the context of their countrymen.)

4. There’s more variety and competition

“The men’s World Cup has only been won by nations from South America or Europe. The same four usual suspects – Brazil, Argentina, Italy, Germany – tend to win everything. Only France, Spain and England have come from outside that quartet to win since 1950.

“By contrast, despite the tournament being only 24 years old, the women’s version has already gone to three different continents. Reigning champions Japan, two-time victors U.S., 1995 winners Norway and much-fancied Canada are all in with a decent shout this time.”

(If anything, the author understated this point. The women’s game had only a handful of potential winners in its early days — U.S., Norway, Germany — but with Europe, in particular, on the rise, and Japan and China still providing big threats from Asia, the women’s game absolutely has more meaningful depth. This current women’s Euro tournament, which Germany has won six times running, seems to have several potential winners — including England, France, Spain and the hosts, The Netherlands.)

5. It’s more accessible and a better value

“People’s game? Pah. A Premier League season ticket costs an average of 509 pounds. In the Women’s Super League, it’s 32. Little wonder that (women’s) sales last season were up 30 percent. … Last autumn, [a women’s friendly at Wembley] were just 15 pounds for adults and [one pound] for kids …”

(This is another clear advantage for the women: They can be seen at a reasonable cost. Another factor, mostly overlooked, is this: Women’s games tend to be civilized events, particularly in the stands. That is not the case for many men’s games, which are heavily policed in most of the world. Which is why kids are far more numerous at women’s games, where fans tend not to be drunk and angry.)

Europe is showing that it is embracing the women’s game across many borders. It was Germany, Norway and Sweden at the start, but it has several other teams ready to move past them, with several more (especially in southern Europe) beginning to make strides toward competitive status.

The women’s game is still in its infancy in several parts of the world, and particularly Africa and South America, and in North America we are talking, for now, about only two teams — the U.S. and Canada.

The women play at a slower pace, and their best goals look ordinary compared to the “wonder goals” of the men’s game.

But the women at this point seem to be better humans, better teammates and athletes who understand they get paid for playing a game they might play for free.

A men’s game versus a women’s game … I’m still going to watch the men nine times out of 10. But the women’s game has advantages, enumerated above, and in the absence of a men’s match to watch I will be following the women from England and Portugal when they play tomorrow night.



1 response so far ↓

  • 1 David // Jul 27, 2017 at 3:48 pm

    In general, the longer I was in sports journalism, the more I enjoyed covering women’s sports. The women didn’t have the attitude of the men, as raised in your first point above, and they just generally seemed to have a much better perspective on life, sports and the relative importance of each. Women could compete just as fiercely as men, but they somehow seemed far less likely to treat a loss like death. I really came to admire that.

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