Once again, the eyes of the world have turned to the sport of soccer. As Japan and America fight in the World Cup Final on July 5th, we see signs of progress and back steps in this edition of the Friday Sports Dump.
The 2015 Women’s World Cup has drawn unprecedented ratings for women’s sports. The US vs. Germany semifinal drew more eyeballs than the clinching game of this year’s Stanley Cup.
Don’t tell that to FIFA. The head of international football still views women’s soccer as more eye candy than role models.
This became evident in a post on the soccer governing body’s website regarding Alex Morgan. The US Striker has been one of the main cogs in the Americans attack and a key reason why they sit one win away from their third World Cup title. Yet, in FIFA’s article there were much more pertinent information to divulge, “Alex Morgan is one of the most popular players in USA women’s football. A talented goalscorer with a style that is very easy on the eye and good looks to match, she is nothing short of a media phenomenon.”
Let us remind you, Alex Morgan’s aggressive style led to the game-winning goal in that semifinal match. Just 3 years ago, she was nominated for the Ballon d’Or award given to the best soccer player in the world.
In the eyes of FIFA, the leading organization for soccer does not see exceptional athletes. FIFA doesn’t see equals, they see skirts.
Equality in soccer isn’t limited to the struggle women have on the pitch. Racism has always reared its ugly head at some of the biggest soccer matches in the world. In Norway, homophobia is something that is not tolerated either.
Last month in Norway’s First Division Soccer League, referee Anders Gjermshus showed Baerum SK midfielder Simen Juklerod a red card for calling an opponent “gay.”
Head of referees Terje Hauge backed up Gjermshus by saying, “We’ve told our referees that if they hear it clearly and there is no doubt about what’s been said, then it should be punished with a red card.”
Baerum SK, Juklerod’s team also agreed with the decision saying, the team had “zero tolerance for that” via the team’s official Twitter account.
Many countries still struggle with homophobia, and the term “gay” is used in everyday vernacular. Like it or not, many impressionable youths look at professional sports as leaders to follow. Norway’s First Division Soccer League is setting an example for many to follow, especially for those who face an uphill battle.
84% of LGBT students report being verbally harassed (name calling, threats, etc.) because of their sexual orientation. 91.5% of LGBT students report hearing homophobic remarks at school
82.9% of LGBT students report that faculty or staff never intervened or intervened only some of the time when present and homophobic remarks were made. 97% of high school students report hearing homophobic remarks regularly from peers. 53% of students report hearing homophobic comments made by school staff.
Those are plenty of numbers that speak to what a heterosexual like myself will never understand.
One can only hope that those looking for role models will look to the players and leagues who look to make the world a better place and not the governing bodies who still view this world as flat.
Photo Credit: Jeff Roberson/AP Images
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