PIERS MORGAN: The real shame of this US women’s soccer team is not their ruthless will to win or wild goal celebrations – it’s the fact they’re paid so much less than the men despite being so much more successful
The most ruthless sporting team in history was the 1932/3 England cricket side under the captaincy of a man named Douglas Jardine.
Desperate to nullify the prodigious exploits of Australian legend Sir Donald Bradman, the greatest batsman (or batter, for my American readers) in history, Jardine devised a devilish strategy that involved ordering his 95mph bowlers (pitchers) to deliberately bowl at the opposition players’ torsos.
Led by ferocious former miner Harold Larwood, they did this for weeks on end, hitting Australian heads, hearts, arms, legs and chests with a relentless and terrifying fusillade.
Dubbed ‘Bodyline’, the plan worked: Bradman was reduced to a mere mortal and England thrashed the Australians 4-1 in the series, winning the coveted Ashes trophy in the process.
Legendary English cricketer Douglas Jardine (left) destroyed the game of usually expert Australian batsman Sir Donald Bradman (right) and refused to apologize when the crowds were furious with his relentless style – telling him he wouldn’t ‘make any friends playing like this!’. His response – much like the actions of the US women’s soccer team – was: ‘I haven’t traveled 9,000 miles to make friends. I’ve come here to win..’
But the furor that erupted over what many saw as both very dangerous tactics and shocking bad sportsmanship caused huge ructions and diplomatic tensions between the two countries.
Jardine, though, remained steadfastly unrepentant.
‘You won’t make any friends playing like this!’ shouted an Australian heckler in the crowd after another of their heroes was felled.
‘My dear fellow,’ replied Jardine, ‘I haven’t traveled 9,000 miles to make friends. I’ve come here to win the Ashes.’
I thought of this today as a similarly furious debate broke out over whether the US women’s soccer (it’s actually ‘football’, not soccer, but for the purposes of this column I will suck up the irritation) team had been wrong to wildly celebrate each of their record-breaking 13 goals against Thailand in their opening match of the World Cup.
And indeed, whether they had been wrong to score that many times at all, and should have taken it easier once victory was assured.
‘BAD SPORTS!’ screamed some critics.
‘CLASSLESS!’ bellowed others.
‘NOT VERY LADYLIKE!’ admonished yet more, suggesting that women players should behave better than men players because of their gender.
The elated and perhaps over the top celebrations by the team after thrashing the Thais 13-0 was branded classless by many commentators
To which I would ask: why?
The whole point of equality is surely that everyone should be treated the same regardless of gender?
There wouldn’t have been anything like this fuss if a men’s team had behaved the same way.
But when women behave like men, especially at sport, they get lambasted for it.
Now, I’ll admit that part of me did find the celebrations a little distasteful.
There’s no great satisfaction in going berserk with joy as you dance on already broken spirits.
As Sir Winston Churchill once said: ‘In victory, magnanimity.’
The US ladies were so much better than their woeful Thailand counterparts it was embarrassing.
So a little humility might have been more gracious.
It would certainly have made them Twitter heroines.
But let’s not forget this was a World Cup match, not a charity kickabout, and every goal matters – not least because progression to later stages of the tournament can often come down to goal difference.
So I get why they refused to take their iron grip of the Thai throats.
Frankly, for all my supposed distaste, if my own club side Arsenal were beating our biggest rivals Tottenham Hotspur 13-0, I’d be loudly urging them to grind the enemy into the dirt and demanding our players perform an ecstatic conga after each subsequent goal.
So let’s cut the hypocritical bullsh*t.
And to be fair to the US women, they did generously console the vanquished Thais afterwards when they all began to blub like babies.
The Thai women’s soccer team put in a woeful performance and were inconsolable after the huge defeat
But the real shame surrounding this US women’s soccer team is not their over-enthusiastic celebrations or desire to annihilate opponents.
It’s the fact they are still paid so much less than the men despite being so much more successful.
On average, the women players make just 38 cents for every $ the men players make.
This is obscene when you consider the gender-related facts of American professional soccer.
The women’s team is a brilliant, ruthless machine that is comfortably the greatest in soccer history.
They’ve won three World Cups and 4 Olympic gold medals, and are currently ranked No1 in the FIFA World rankings as they have been for 10 of the past 11 years.
The women pull massive crowds and drawing increasingly massive TV ratings.
Their staggering success has attracted surging corporate interest in sponsoring both the US women and women’s soccer generally around the world.
The US men’s team, by contrast, are terrible.
So bad in fact that they didn’t even qualify for the last Men’s World Cup, a tournament that unlike the women they’ve never come close to winning.
They’re currently languishing No24 in the world, which for a country the size of America is pathetic.
To put things into proper perspective, the US women’s team scored more goals against Thailand yesterday than the men’s team have scored OVER THE PAST FOUR WORLD CUPS!
So the biggest stars of US soccer are not men, they’re Alex Morgan and her teammates – because they’re winners, and the men are losers.
Morgan is the Cristiano Ronaldo of US soccer.
The biggest stars of US soccer are not men – currently a pathetic number 24 in the world -, they’re Alex Morgan (above left) and her teammates – because they’re winners, and the men are losers. Morgan is the Cristiano Ronaldo (above right) of US soccer
That doesn’t mean she should be paid the same as Ronaldo, who to my mind is the greatest player the game has ever seen.
But it absolutely does mean she should be paid as much or more than any US men’s soccer player.
For one very good reason: she’s worth it.
Even the US men’s team stars don’t disagree with this – they have loudly supported the women’s campaign for equal pay.
To make it even worse, the women’s team played 19 more matches than the men from 2015 to 2018.
So they’re being paid less to work more.
The shocking inequity runs right through the US professional game.
Minimum salary for players in the National Women’s Soccer League is just $16,538. Yet minimum salary for male players in Major League Soccer is $50,000.
Star defender Becky Sauerbrunn has advocated for equal pay in the sport
How can that be right?
In March, the women finally had enough of this sexist nonsense and sued the United States Soccer Federation, citing ‘purposeful gender discrimination.’
As star defender Becky Sauerbrunn put it: ‘The bottom line is simple: it is wrong for us to be paid and valued less for our work because of our gender.’
The lawsuit calculated that if the men and women played 20 matches each and each squad won every match, the women would earn $99,000 while the men would earn $263,320.
Game over – or it should be.
Radical feminists have spent the past few years hijacking the battle for equality with an overtly man-hating agenda, and I have led the charge in ridiculing them for it.
But this is the kind of equality hill we should all be prepared to die on.
The US women’s soccer team are way better than the US men’s team, they’re way bigger stars than the men, they bring in just as much revenue and ratings as the men, and yet they get just 38% of the men’s earnings.
This is outrageous blatant gender inequality, and must be fixed as a matter of urgency.
In the meantime, my advice to the US women’s team is to ignore the snipers, carry on destroying opponents and keep celebrating every goal as excitedly as you like.
To borrow the words of Douglas Jardine: you haven’t travelled 5,000 miles to make friends, you’ve come to win the World Cup.
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