The World Cup, or a cup for just half the world
With the FIFA World Cup looming, we’re starting to be bombarded with the usual tired old messages about the world coming together in harmony, yada yada yada. But in reality, only half of humanity is coming together.
Who’s missing? Women, of course. Unlike the Olympics, which also bills itself as a quadrennial love-in for all colours, creeds and nationalities, the FIFA World Cup reserves no place for female competitors. Striking-looking women on the sideline, fine. Strikers on the pitch, not required.
The next FIFA Womens’s World Cup is set down for Germany in 2011. I don’t know if FIFA has a sub-committee governing the women’s game, but if it does, it should be called FIFI, and FIFI should be agitating like a bitch to have future Cups staged concurrently with the men’s event.
There are all kinds of precedents for this in major sport, not least the recent cricket World T20 in the Caribbean, where the men’s and women’s tournaments were played over the same two weeks, on the same grounds.
Wasn’t it great to see the pics early Monday of Michael Clarke and friends cheering on the Aussie girls to victory, even with their clothes still sweaty from their loss to England in the men’s final? And wouldn’t it be just as fantastic to see Cahill and Kewell cheer on the Matildas after the men’s likely early exit in the soccer?
Imagine the four tennis Grand Slams without the presence of both men and women. Yes, the women’s game is slower and less powerful than the men’s, but hey, that’s exactly its appeal. Slugfests can be boring. The subtlety of women’s tennis is often a welcome relief.
Obviously, the gap between men and women in soccer is much greater than in tennis, given the vast riches and attention paid to the top men, compared to the anonymous, and mostly broke, female players. All the more reason to give the women some exposure of the non-fleshy variety, and get them up to the men’s level.
Who knows, within a decade or two, the average fan might be as familiar with top female footballers as they are with Serena Williams. They might even be able to name the reigning women’s world champs, who currently happen to be…ummm….ummm, OK, I just looked it up. Bugger. It’s bloody Germany.
Look, obviously not all women’s sport deserves a place on sport’s biggest stage. To argue that would be tokenism of the “I work for the ABC” variety. But soccer is surely ripe for it.
And if you need an omen, OMG, here’s a beauty. On the last ball of the women’s World T20 final this week, the Kiwis needed a boundary to tie the game.
The batter hit straight…and 19 year old Aussie bowler Ellyse Perry stuck out her foot in desperation to stop the ball, and win the world title for Australia. Perry, of course, has also represented Australia in soccer. Reckon she was trying to tell us all something?
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