Women Are Sexy, Men Are Soccer Players: Perspectives from the London Olympics

By Jessica Luther


Japan v. USA

Ah, it’s that time of summer again: Olympic fever has begun. And with it, constant reminders that women soccer players are not men soccer players.

With the games scheduled to begin on Sunday, July 27, teams are now making their way to London.

Yesterday, news broke that the Japan Football Association made a clear distinction between the men’s and women’s team on the flight over from Japan.

While the men enjoyed business class, the women rode back in economy premium. The JFA claims that this is because the men’s league is professional and the women’s only semi-professional (which translates to the men making more money for the JFA). [A similar scenario happened with the men’s and women’s Australian basketball teams, too.]

Yet, just last year, after the women won the World Cup, they flew back business class from Germany and have been promised business class for the trip home if they medal in the Olympics. The men are not considered contenders for any medals but are promised business class for their return trip.

As the Wall Street Journal points out, if this is about money, that argument is a weak one since the women became instant superstars in their country upon winning and pull down their fair share of money with sponsors and the like.

The men have been flying business class since the 1996 Olympics.

Upon arriving in Paris yesterday, the most recognizable face of women’s soccer in Japan, the MVP from World Cup 2011, and captain of their Olympic team, Homare Sawa, joked, “It should have been the other way around. Even just in terms of age, we are senior.”

The USA women’s soccer team also arrived in Europe yesterday. How did the Daily Record in Glasgow begin their report about the team’s arrival to that city?

ALL of a sudden, the Olympics have got sexy. Really sexy.

The pin-up babes of the US Olympic football team arrived for their first training session in Glasgow yesterday.

And although the rain was pouring down, you would hardly have noticed as stars such as glamour-girl keeper Hope Solo, 32, and strike stunner Alex Morgan, 23, hit the pitch.

[Reminder: the USA men’s soccer team failed to qualify for these Olympic games.]

NBC Sports is arguing that this is a product of Europe’s sexist media. Shrug. I don’t think the US media should get a pass on that one.

I imagine both sides of the pond will do their fair share of reporting about the sexiness of these women soccer players during the games. And Olympic committees and sports associations will continue to make decisions that remind women players again and again that they are not the same as their male counterparts.

You can contact or follow Jessica on Twitter: @scATX.

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