Women's World Cup: Three events that show the gap between men's and women's football
Luis Rubiales kisses Jenny Hermoso
The Spanish Football Federation called an emergency meeting on Friday after Spain’s prime minister said Luis Rubiales kissing Gini Hermoso on the lips was an “unacceptable gesture”.

The Women’s World Cup saw record attendance, huge global audiences and teams break new heights. But it was also marred by events that distracted from the great achievements on the field.

When the Spanish soccer team climbed to the podium on Sunday to collect their trophy after winning the Women’s World Cup, enthusiastic fans cheered their skills, resilience and historic achievement. Hours later, a video of Luis Rubiales kissing Jenny Hermoso on the lips went viral Global talking point – Outraged critics and gamers alike.

This incident was not lost on one of the most prominent activists in the field of equality in sports, the American player Megan Rapinoewho noted that female soccer players “play two games at the same time”.

She added, “First, we are all playing against each other. Second, we are all playing together to win equality, progress and what we deserve.”

The tournament had already begun against the background of discussions and disputes between countries equal pay, rewards And Other financial support.

From the infamous Rubiales kiss to Nike’s decision not to make replica goalkeeper jerseys, here’s what three controversial World Cup moments tell us about the problems women footballers still face.

Infantino’s speech and the battle for recognition

Infantino is no stranger to surprising. Back in November 2022, the most powerful man in world football gave a personal speech on the eve of the controversial Men’s World Cup in Qatar.

“Today I feel Qatari, I feel Arab, I feel African, I feel gay, I feel disabled, I feel like a migrant worker,” the FIFA president said in a press conference before the men’s World Cup in Qatar, after which he was criticized. for comments “As clumsy as they were.”external link

But at another World Cup press conference just nine months later, addressing “all women”, he told them they “have the power to change”.

“Pick the right fights. Pick the right fights. You have the power to change. You have the power to convince us men of what we should and shouldn’t do. You do it. Just do it. With Fifa guys, the doors are open,” he said. Just push the doors.”

It was another speech for which Infantino was criticized by the Guardian columnist Marina Hydeexternal link His words were described as “incredibly caring for women”, BBC presenter Gabby Logan said the comments were “ridiculous and reductive”, while commentator Jackie Utley called them out. “Nonsense”.external link

The players didn’t like it either. Norwegian striker Ada Hegerberg said in a sarcastic way Posted on social mediaexternal link that she was “working on a little presentation to impress men”.

By this point, Infantino had already drawn attention to the fact that he had four daughters. In videos in support of the lionesses posted on social media, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, David Beckham and even the Prince of Wales have been noted for highlighting their daughters – but not their sons, in the case of the latter.

The absence of Sunak and Prince William from Sunday’s final was also notable. Explanations for the influence of climate have been raised, however Many questionedexternal link If the British Prime Minister and the Football Association president would have missed the World Cup final had he included Gareth Southgate’s men?

Spain’s kiss gateway and unwanted attention

Spain’s preparations for the tournament were marked by camp turmoil and player revolts, but despite their deserved first World Cup victory, more negative attention came the country’s way for the actions of the man at the top of the federation.

Having earlier held his genitals in celebration while standing near Queen Letizia of Spain and her 16-year-old daughter, Rubiales will once again display “unacceptable” behavior when he takes his place on the podium.

As he salutes Spain’s players as they receive their World Cup winners’ medals, he grabs Jenny Hermoso by the head before forcibly kissing her lips, surrounded by cameras, millions watching.

As Hermoso pulled away, he continued kissing her teammates on the cheek and neck while cuddling each one of them. Later in the dressing room, he tells them that they must visit Ibiza, as it will be there where Hermoso will marry.

“I didn’t enjoy it,” the Spanish forward told the press, though he later defended Rubiales, albeit with quotes released by the Spanish Football Federation itself – while the country’s politicians said it was a “form of sexual violence” that could not be “normalized”. “. On Tuesday, he met Spain’s acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez He called it an “unacceptable gesture”. Another politician called him to resign.

Rubiales later admitted he was “totally wrong”, after the global backlash, but an emergency meeting of the Spanish Football Federation on Friday could lead to further action.

Speaking to The Atlantic magazine, Rapinoe said Rubiales’ actions “indicate a deep level of misogyny and sexism in that union,” adding, “It made me think about how much we are required to put up with.”

“What kind of upside down world do we live in? In the biggest stage, where you have to celebrate, Jenny (Hermoso) has to be physically assaulted by this guy.”

Epic jersey and player support

Marie Erbis during the World Cup Final
England’s Marie Erbes won the award for best goalkeeper in the 2023 Women’s World Cup

Then you have the story that has gone on and on with no sign of a resolution anytime soon.

Football fans, especially these impressionable youngsters, have carried the names of their heroes on their backs for years. But if your hero is Mary Erbes, bad luck.

The English goalkeeper may quickly become a household name with individual accolades – World’s Best Goalkeeper at The FIFA Best Awards, Gold Glove winner In Australia and New Zealand – tired, but her match shirt is nowhere to be seen.

In July, Erbes said she was “sore” that fans could not purchase a replica of her goalkeeper jersey, and manufacturers Nike reportedly did not offer women’s goalkeeper kits for public sale as part of its commercial strategy. A quick search online easily finds the England Goalkeeper Shirt for Men available for purchase.

Commercially, too, it could be seen as a missed opportunity for the brand, given replicas of Adidas’ Manchester United Earps’ kit sold out last season.

On Sunday, Nike said it was “working on solutions for future leagues.” At the time of writing, a petition calling for Nike to rethink its decision has garnered more than 130,000 signatures.

Eventually, fans took matters into their own hands, bringing out the canvas pens and designing their own versions.

In fact, the only two people who have managed to get hold of the Erbes goalkeeper jerseys are her parentsexternal link He proudly wears old match shirts as a loyal supporter.

As Dr. Ali Bowes – Lecturer in the Sociology of Women’s Sport at Nottingham Trent University – said: He recently told BBC News“Sport is a microcosm of society.”

“If you can address gender inequality in sport, it will go a long way towards addressing the problems of gender inequality in the wider world.”

A fan holds a piece of cardboard from Marie Erbes goalkeeper's shirt with a banner inviting Nike to
Fans have turned to makeshift versions of the Earps jersey

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