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Women’s football is more popular than ever, but equality remains elusive
The Tokyo Olympics were filled with memorable performances by the Canadians. André De Grasse’s gold medal in the 200-meter, Damian Warner’s historic decathlon victory and Penny Oleksiak becoming Canada’s most decorated Olympian, to name a few, have all drawn the attention of the country in their own way. But no moment has sparked more excitement – or attracted more glances – than the women’s football team’s thrilling victory over Sweden in the gold medal game. It was the most-watched event of the Games in Canada, drawing 4.4 million viewers on TV-only and many more on streaming platforms, which is quite remarkable considering that it s ‘is produced in the morning of a working day.
Watching the heroism of the shootout from fearless goalie Steph Labbé and icy-veined goal scorers Jessie Fleming, Deanne Rose and Julia Grosso, you might imagine thousands of girls playing soccer across the country asking their parents for a sweater with the name and number of one of their new heroes on the back. But many fans have found this hard to come by – at least compared to the big professional men’s sports leagues, which always make sure there is an array of championship merchandise for sale by the time the final whistle blows. Yes, you can order a ready-made Christine Sinclair, Kadeisha Buchanan or Ashley Lawrence jersey (or a personalized women’s jersey with the name and number of your choice) from the Canada Soccer website now. But they are only available in a very small format, suggesting that the company that supplies them has been slow to increase their inventory to meet the unexpected demand. On the other hand, you can buy an Alphonso Davies or other men’s national team player jersey in just about any size you want.
Now, the option of buying an expensive sweat-wicking top may not seem like a big deal to you. But for some, like Labbé for example, it’s another sign that women’s soccer is still fighting for respect, even after Canada’s monumental victory in Tokyo. Learn more about the product gap in this story from CBC News’ Sonali Karnick.
Step 1. Fall asleep by scrolling to find the women’s swimsuit
Step 2. Find it but only available in XS. And only 3 in total.
Step 4. Put the name of the canwnt on the men’s jersey the canwnt is not wearing… no thanks.
Step 5. 🗣🤯🥇
Olympic gold medalists. pic.twitter.com/e4UgdT9ubz
Meanwhile, in the United States, the world’s most celebrated national women’s football team is still waging its very public battle for equal pay. The problem resurfaced this week when the American Football Federation said it had offered identical offers to the players’ unions for its men’s and women’s teams. The women’s union called this a “publicity stunt”. US Soccer insisted the offer is “real, genuine and in good faith” and criticized the players for their involvement in the new LFG documentary, on the team’s legal battle for equal pay. The federation called the film “one-sided”.
As you can see, emotions continue to run high as the current US Women’s Team work deal expires at the end of the year. Meanwhile, players await a decision on their appeal of a judge’s decision to dismiss their $ 66 million lawsuit against US Soccer for, they say, violation of US equal pay law. .
If you want to get into the weeds about the lawsuit and the arguments presented by both sides, read this edition of the Buzzer from May 2020. In short, the US women’s team, which has won the last two Women’s World Cups and achieved much more success on the pitch than the mediocre men’s team, wants to be paid the same and receive the same amount of funding for things like coaching, medical treatment, and travel. But US Soccer argued, and the judge accepted, that the pay differences are the result of choices made by collective bargaining actors – not discrimination by the federation. The women’s team and its supporters counter that these choices (aimed mainly at securing a more guaranteed salary) were only made because of the relative lack of opportunities for women to earn a lot of money and benefits by playing professional football.
Above all this looms the disparity in the prize money that FIFA gives out for the men’s and women’s World Cups. Largely because the men’s tournament commands a lot more money for broadcast rights and sponsorships, each national federation with a team in the 2018 Men’s World Cup received $ 400 million, compared to just $ 30 million for the 2019 Women’s World Cup. However, as the United States women’s team and its supporters like to point out, nothing prevents a federation from sharing the dough equally. That, of course, would require a massive shift in thinking. And, as we’ve seen, female footballers’ progress tends to come in small steps, no matter how much they’ve earned it.
WATCH | Commodity gap in women’s football:
The Blue Jays are resuming their playoff efforts tonight. After taking two of three from leader of the Eastern American League, Tampa Bay, the Jays have won 16 of their last 19 games. But they remain stuck in a three-way battle for the two AL joker spots with Boston and New York, with just half a game separating the teams. After a day off yesterday, Toronto can cash in a few wins against a poor Minnesota team that is in town for a three-game series that kicks off tonight at 7:07 p.m. ET. The Yankees welcome Cleveland as best they can, while Boston welcomes the atrocious Baltimore Orioles to Fenway Park. If you missed yesterday’s newsletter, we explained why the Jays are a legitimate contender for the World Series whose results are finally catching up to their underlying quality. Read it here.
Coming to CBC Sports
Here’s what you can stream live on CBCSports.ca, the CBC Sports app and CBC Gem, or watch on the CBC TV network today and this weekend:
Figure skating: The season is underway with the Skate Canada Fall Invitation Classic in Quebec. You can stream the Couples Free Skate today at 3:45 p.m. ET and the Women’s Free Skate at 6:15 p.m. ET. On Saturdays, stream the men’s free at 11 a.m. ET and the free ice dancing at 12:30 p.m. ET.
Jumping: Stream various competitions for the Spruce Meadows North American Tournament today at 4 p.m. ET, Saturday at 12:15 p.m. ET and 3 p.m. ET, and Sunday at 1 p.m. ET and 4:15 p.m. ET. Plus, broadcast a Grand Slam event in Germany on Sunday at 9:30 a.m.ET.
Rugby Sevens: Due to the pandemic, the entire 2021 World Rugby Sevens Series will only have two stages: in Vancouver this weekend and in Edmonton next weekend. The Vancouver event features a 12-team men’s tournament and a four-team women’s tournament. Canada has a team in both. Read a full preview here and stream the games live Saturday from noon to 8 p.m. ET and Sunday from noon to 6:30 p.m. ET.
Triathlon: Stream the Super League event in Great Britain on Saturday at 6:30 a.m.ET.
Athletics: Stream the World Athletics Continental Tour event in Kenya on Saturday at 9 a.m.ET.
On the way to the Olympic Games: Saturday’s show includes the CP International show jumping competition at Spruce Meadows, followed by the World Rugby Sevens Series event in Vancouver. Watch it on the CBC TV network or broadcast from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. ET. Sunday’s show features rugby sevens. Watch it on CBC TV from 3 pm to 4 pm local time or air from 2 pm to 2 pm ET.
You are up to date. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.