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Brian Uribe
Professor Bieber
English 115 Honors
20 October 2015
Women on the Field
Nearly 23 million Americans watched as the United States Women’s National Team won
their third World Cup; however, the National Women’s Soccer League’s attendance for the
entirety of that year’s season barely surpassed half a million. With the National Women’s Soccer
League struggling to maintain a following that the USWNT can muster up, one must wonder,
why don’t more Americans support their domestic league? How society portrays female athletes
affects the popularity of the sport. Female soccer players are officiated differently than the males,
which causes the sport to be less exciting to watch. Improper management of women’s leagues
stagnates competitive play. So without a regular audience, female athletes falls under a niche of
undervalued performers which do not receive fair media attention. Although the nation’s women
attracts a large following on an international level, double standards regarding athletes within
this country will prevent women from making a successful profession out of playing soccer.
A referee's duty is to hold players to the standards of a sport. In soccer one referee is
given the discretion of play. Which means that the official can stop play during critical moments
and shift the momentum of the game. When fans wonder why woman’s play appears passive
compared to men’s play, it can be traced back to the referee. An experimental study was
conducted where teams of either gender, would commit similar infractions and measured how
the official responded, the results were women were penalized more than men (Coulomb). This
implies that a males are inherently more aggressive than females so women can’t be as
competitive. So when a man commits an audacious tackle it is deemed as fair play if he were
successful but when a woman performs the same action the referee is more willing to intervene.

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Therefore women are conditioned to play at a different tempo than what is normal in a game
which changes the way the game is played. Players have to become conscious of their decisions
so they are not making dribbles or challenges that make the sport exciting to watch. Soccer isn’t
meant to be played timidly, it’s a fluid sport that sees players move as a unit. Referees were
implemented to keep players from hurting each other and deciding when a ball is out of play
while staying out of the players’ way, but for women the official dictates play just as much as an
opposing player would. So why can’t referees be impartial on decisions, hasn’t the sport been
around long enough to have an organization that appeals actions that affect the sport?
Soccer is governed by the Federation Internationale de Football Association, FIFA in
short, the organization is the governing body of the sport and which sets guidelines for nations to
adhere if they want to participate in international competitions. But when Sepp Blatter, the
president of FIFA, is pressed on the lack of initiative towards improving soccer for females he
makes comments that perpetuates women shouldn’t be as competitive, “They could, for example,
have tighter shorts. Female players are pretty, if you excuse me for saying so” (O’Mara). Blatter
doesn’t understand the benefits of having competitive soccer and can only say women should
look better to attract an audience. FIFA is sponsored by a multitude of corporations and resources
gathered from sponsors are then allocated back into the sport so why can’t FIFA support a league
that is has potential to become self-sufficient? It may not seem surprising but FIFA doesn’t offer
nearly as much resources to women asthey do men, highlighted by the rewards for being the
world’s best, “For their win, the U.S. team will earn $2 million. By comparison, Germany
received $35 million in 2014 after winning the Men’s World Cup Final in Brazil.” (Shalby).
Women receive less compensation for representing their countries in the same event. The issue
isn’t just competitions, but everything leading up to one too. Men have qualifiers and play
friendly scrimmages for years in advance of a tournament, while women aren’t allocated the

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resources to play between nations to build up experience and it shows in how in how common it
is for a team to lose by double digits. Soccer is considered a low-scoring game but when a
country is humiliated on the international stage, it’s disheartening to see some nations with little
progress in their women’s side. So not only are international teams handicapped from the lack of
time together, they play under circumstances that the male counterparts would have never agreed
to. This time women were the first to play a competition on an artificial field. While the world
would go under hysteria if a men’s competition was affected by the turf, ball bouncing and
traveling differently, women accepted the conditions they were given because they just want to
represent their countries. Women were driven to show the world that they can play the sport and
they did, however coverage seems to be reserved for international competitions.
Networks, like SKY and FOX, compete for the rights to show exclusive coverage of
games. Then fans track their teams and leagues through various social media outlets which will
post coverage on live events. It is easy for fans to keep updated on their teams but not all the
time. The problem for women is that coverage is sporadic and fails to contain the dynamic of the
sport, “They [men] have higher production values, higher-quality coverage, and higher-quality
commentary... When you watch women’s sports, and there are fewer camera angles, fewer cuts to
shot, fewer instant replays, yeah, it’s going to seem to be a slower game, [and] it’s going to seem
to be less exciting.” (Cooky). The media follows the male soccer players attentively; replays
highlight their reactions, given post-match interviews, and fans are given the information they
need as opposed to females who have games that may not even be televised.. On the slight
chance women were being broadcasted, the coverage was unappealing so what’s there to
entertain viewers? Why should the viewers invest themselves when the game isn’t interesting?
How can someone watch end-to-end soccer (attacking chances from both sides) when the camera

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can’t pan out and follow players? When media fails to capture key events in a game, they fail to
retain an audience. Women are not given the opportunity to display their qualities and it’s not
even their fault.
When odds are stacked against women who want to make a career out of soccer, why
would anyone dedicate themselves into the profession? Careers average at about a decade and
that’s excluding season ending injuries. Why would anyone venture into an unstable market that
seems to make little progress? People will always be passionate about the sport, it’s about giving
women the opportunity to make something out of playing professional soccer. Currently women
have to comply with game-changing officiating, an unadventurous governing body, and limited
media attention with nothing in the immediate future that suggests a sudden surge of interest in
changing sport. If the nation’s league was less restricted on marketing and finances and worked
with social media to provide incentives for people to pick up following the sport then a healthy
women’s league could be fathomable. Unless the nation become more active with women’s
soccer as a whole, then female athletes can meet the expectations of their male counterparts.

Works Cited
Cooky, Cheryl. ""It's Dude Time!"" Invited Article Sage Publications, 05 June 2015. Web. 20
Oct. 2015.
Coulomb-Cabagno, Geneviève, Olivier Rascle, and Nicolas Souchon. "Players’ Gender and
Male Referees’ Decisions About Aggression in French Soccer: A Preliminary
Study." Sex Roles, 52.7 (2005): 547-553.

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O'Mara, Kelly. "HOW FIFA HAS HURT WOMEN'S SOCCER." Vice Sports. Vice, 5 June
2015. Web. 8 Dec. 2015.
Shalby, Colleen. "U.S. Women's Soccer Team Gets $2 Million for World Cup Win; German
Men Got $35 Million in 2014." PBS. PBS, 06 July 2015. Web. 20 Oct. 2015