Soccer, Sexism, USSF’S Huge [Hope] Solo Mess and A LOT of WTF

I have read and read and re-read pretty much everything written about this Hope Solo mess.  I have also read a lot written about domestic violence in the NFL and in sports in general.

Generally all the talking has proven to me is that very, very few people either involved in the decision-making or writing about it have any clue what the fuck they are talking about.  There is precious little discussion about the cycles of abuse, the toll it takes on families or why it exists in the first place.

To be clear, I have never been in a physically abusive relationship and got out of a couple emotionally abusive relationships pretty much unscathed or with minimal damage.   I have had a few close calls with some class-A DBags and suffered some sexual harassment and a sexual assault by a then boyfriend that left serious emotional scars, but thankfully not physical ones.  I have never been hit buy a guy that I was seeing or any other one for that matter.  I have never been in a physically abusive relationship by the grace of God and A LOT of luck and friends stepping in the line of fire so to speak.    Luckily, in my case relationships that could very easily end up there, I got out before it did.

Now back to the topic at hand… the never ending mess that is Hope Solo’s non-professional life.  I keep hearing this combination: Hope, Ray Rice, the question of why is SHE still playing, the false equivalency of male and female domestic violence and the idea that she is somehow different by virtue of gender    There are only a few people who know what happened in Hope Solo’s family’s kitchen and ultimately that is a matter for a judge/jury and or her legal team to sort through and determine.  There was no smoking gun videotape to crystallize the world’s opinion.

There are charges to be adjusted, include getting into a violent altercation with him 17 year-old nephew including breaking a broom over his head and then punching her sister, the boy’s mother, in the face when the sister tried to break it.  If those charges are true, she should be sent to jail as befitting punishment for those crimes.   I don’t care that she is a Hope Solo, America’s Best Goalkeeper or whatever.. if she is a violent thug, she is a violent thug.  Simple… simple… simple…

There is the trick and real issue, nothing, not one damn thing, in domestic violence is simple or black and white.

She is being portrayed in some segments as the same as Ray Rice and given the charges you can very easily make that case.  She is accused of the same crime as he was, punching a female loved one in the face, but she also has additional charges of violence against a minor. Is she then worse than Rice?  Is she been given a pass because we sexistly, as a society, do not consider women to be equally capable of violence and therefore not held to the same standard when they commit acts of violence?

Few, if any people, are talking about the ultimate irony  of Hope’s life…  that less than two years ago… Hope was the Janay Rice.  Hope was engaged to former NFL player Jerramy Stevens when he was accused and arrested for physical assaulting her at a party.   She married him hours later and charges were dropped due to lack of evidence and her refusal to testify.  When I say She was the Janay Rice, I mean down to the emergency marriage to protect her man.  Now does her being a, “victim,” of domestic abuse make her more sympathetic than Ray Rice?

Before I get too involved in this… let me state this emphatically, DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IS NOT OK.. IN ANY FORM, be it verbal, mental, emotional, physical, sexual or any combination there of..  it is also not cookie-cutter, or cookie-cutter easy to solve.  If you are wondering, no I have no answers to solve the problem.  I just think that different questions should be asked.

Hope has always been, “troubled,” and, “trouble,” depending on your perspective.  She has always been US Soccer’s bad girl: fighting with teammates, defaming the ’91ers, ignoring coaches, and then there is the family drama on the side.  She has been the victim and now the accused perpetrator of intimate violence.  It is typical of Hope’s image .,.. conflicted mess of good and bad, light and dark, right and wrong.

There are real questions that should be asked about Hope and her Captaining of the US Women’s National Team while these criminal charges hang over her.  It is fair to know that until convicted, she is innocent.  I firmly believe that for all persons. It is the cornerstone of our democracy.  She is entitled to that right as well.

What becomes the issue is how do we are the American soccer community deal with this mess most appropriately?  Hope missed national team friendly to attend the party where all this went down.  It potentially was the match that would have broken Briana Scurry’s shut-out record.  She did it later while both captaining the national team and still under indictment.

Today the WWC Qualifying Rooster was announced with Hope as presumptive Starting GK.

 

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After all Uncle Sunil said in a statement recently, “From the beginning, we considered the information available and have taken a deliberate and thoughtful approach regarding Hope Solo’s status with the National Team…Based on that information, U.S. Soccer stands by our decision to allow her to participate with the team as the legal process unfolds. If new information becomes available we will carefully consider it.”
Uncle Sunil is flat out wrong, so is USSF.  

If it were Tim Howard and not Hope Solo, we would not be having this discussion. He would be banned… and NO, I am NOT accusing Tim of any sort of thing. It was just a like for like analogy.

Look I believe in innocent until proven guilty in a Court of law after a fair trial, with every fiber of my being.  I do.  This is not a Court of law… this is the Court of public opinion, the Supreme Court of public perception.  This is teaching young children, both girls and boys that violence committed by women is not as serious or as dangerous as that committed by men.  It is.  It is that simple.  This is the core group of USWNT fans, young, impressionable kids.

What is this teaching boys who are the victims of domestic violence? By the way the estimate is 1 in 14 guys at some point in his life will be the victim of domestic violence, YES VICTIM. That number rises dramatically for homosexual boys and men to 40%. [Per the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence]

What is it teaching girls who commit those acts?  What about girls who are lesbian and subjected to domestic abuse in their relationships?  
Is is not as serious, as dangerous, as important because the abuser was another female?

The players of the USWNT have been shamefully quite on this subject… shamefully quite.  I give them only the benefit of the doubt in that, I assume they were strongly encouraged/ordered to keep their mouths shut.

Until today when back-up goalkeeper Jillian Loyden retired from international soccer, not one team member spoke out.  Loyden retired and then in the proverbial same breath, called out USSF and its basically unconscionable decision to ignore the Solo situation.   She has a very special reason to be so insistent that USSF gets it collective shit together.  She more than most know that what domestic violence can do… Jillian buried her sister Britton who was (allegedly) murdered by Britton’s fiancé who is still awaiting his murder trial (yes I believe he is innocent as he has not been found guilty).  Jillian wrote an impassioned op-ed piece calling for Hope to be banned..  She is correct, Hope should be banned.  [READ IT NOW]  For more info, you can go to Jillian’s Foundation’s website.

I do not pretend to know all the ins and outs of domestic violence, or how it affects people individually.  I know that Hope has been involved publicly as both a victim and a perpetrator. I do not know if she is guilty; that is for a Court, a judge and jury to determine… this is about representing the United States of America in international soccer, the historical beacon of the Women’s game.  Hope is not the player to do that at this point.

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Here is to Title IX, Sexist’s Problems and The 99ers

All day yesterday, I had been trying to write about how much love and admiration I have for the greatest soccer team, America has ever produced.  The 1999 Women’s World Cup Team.. it was the 15th anniversary of their stunning penalty taking triumph.

I was not sure what to say, or even what was left to say..  in 15 years, not much was left to debate, discuss, dissect.  Sure I could have written a flowery piece about how much watching the ladies play in the Quarterfinals shaped me or the feeling of dread bordering on tears at Brandi’s own goal followed up by my relief at her redemption in tying the match or my unbridled, emotional meltdown at Joy’s game winner, which I do not recall being spectacular stylistically but it was perfect.    Surviving the knock-out round after a disastrous start with 54,000 or so people watching still makes me tingle with pride and joy.

I could have talked about the final.. Michelle Akers, the greatest soccer player America has ever produced, (sorry Landon, it’s not even close) being forced to leave the pitch injured.   If you doubt it ask FIFA, they named her Women’s Player of the Century.  Her male counter-parts are Pele and Maradonna sharing the title.  She also won FIFA Order of Merit the highest honor in world soccer.  She is also of course in the US Soccer Hall of Fame.  Basically she is EVERY PART OF AWESOME AND BADASS..  [note her twitter feed is as AMAZING as she is.  She is a must follow].    Did I mention for those of you who don’t know.. she did it while battling Lime Disease, for which there were not a lot of treatment options at the time.  Or there was Kristine Lilly’s perfect world cup saving header off the line, Briana’s penalty stop or Brandi and celebration of the century.

But even those things have been done before..  Nothing really captured what I wanted to say about them.  Then twitter blew up last night because a lacrosse and soccer sportswear Warrior manufacturer (a subsidiary of New Balance) decided to let their sexist flag high and proud.

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and then doubled-down.. with a tweet about how there are more women’s lacrosse programs in school than men’s and how that was also a #TitleIXProblem and the added #inequality.. no seriously, they did.  They actually did and have yet to apologize.   At least they did finally delete the tweets about about two hours.

In that two hours, two thinks struck me… first most of the people ripping them apart in response and outraged (at least at the beginning were young guys).  They were as outraged and furious as I or any of my feminist girlfriends were, maybe more so.. they were pissed.  Seriously they stepped up.   Here are a few..

My friend Aristeia summed the situation up best..

She is not wrong.. it totally is.. My second thought was this…

It is true… the great single moment in the history of Title IX was the USWNT winning the World Cup at home in front of 90,000 fans in the stands and millions watching around the world.  That entire team was raised as the first generation of Title IX babies where girls/women’s athleticism was equally celebrated, encouraged and required.

Yes, they won the title in 1991 and the Olympics in 1996 but this was wholly different.  That night in the stands I was with my then boyfriend who I had to drag to go..  girls playing soccer was not exactly high on his baseball scholarship earning list of priorities… that night was magical.. yes for the win and for the drama but for something much more simply and yet powerful.

I looks at him and said, ” My god all the little kids, girls and boys, are wearing Mia jerseys?”  He was completely lost on why this was a big deal.  He  had been to hundreds of sporting events and you always wore your team’s jersey to him.  I had been too many too but like him, they had ALL been male teams competing against male teams.  They jerseys were for male athletes.

This tournament has to be the first time in history that a stadium full of people were watching, “girls,” while WEARING THE JERSEY OF A GIRL PLAYER.  Little boys were running not even understanding what the revolution they were leading..  Those little boys and girls watching the 1999ers then are now leading the first against sexism in sports as evidenced by their response to Warrior’s madness.  Those boys 15 years later are just accustom to women being athletic as part of norm life.

Now of course, there are many guys (and girls sadly) who agreed with he company but many, many, many more did it.  Myself and many, people I know have contacted both warrior and its parent company New Balance (a company I have ALWAYS loved for their corporate responsibility) to complain.  From reports back, New Balance is taking it seriously even if their subsidiary is not.  Warrior apparently was getting hammered today with complaint calls.. after all sexism is bad and bad for business.

The Washington Post’s Des Bieler wrote an article on this matter entitled, “Warrior sports apparel company offers lessons in anti-social media.”  In it he writes, that  Warrior posted an apologycap

Here is the thing… it is not on their Twitter Timeline..  there is zero hint of an apology that anyone I have seen has seen.   But good lord in even, their website is a misogynist’s wet dream..  SERIOUSLY THESE ARE ACTUALLY ON THEIR website...  basically the company motto is, “women not worthy to sell to but totally worthy to sell.” Apparently slavery and human trafficking are comic gold in the lacrosse world.

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Now looking father back into their Timeline is this masterpiece of not at all rape-culture promoting marketing masterpiece

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Cross the line is their ad campaign…

There is an amazing irony and symmetry in this happening on the 15th Anv of the 1999er winning the World Cup or more appropriately, Title IX’s great single success.

Ultimately what I have come to understand is this.. the true power of Title IX is not teaching girls that being athletic, competitive, strong, determined, self-confident and all the other positive things girls get from sports; it is teaching the boys as well that girls are all of those things and to fight with girls to protect girls’ right to play too.

Thanks to the 92 Congress for passing Title IX, thanks to all the subsequent Congresses who reauthorized it. Thanks to the 199ers for always making us proud and thanks to the guys who stand with women in the fight for equality, thanks to you most of all.  As Aristeia said so perfectly, “love the guys on my TL that understand they can be masculine and a feminist. And it’s sexy as hell.”

Now we are 329 Days Away from the 2015 Women’s World Cup.. come on ladies… let’s bring home finally what is rightfully ours.  For yourselves, for your country, for the 1999ers who paved your way and for the sexist dbags would still try to stand in your way.

I’m Not Talking About It…Oh USWNT WTF?

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I could rant, oh could I rant but right now.. I am in utter shock and an unacceptable level of bad awe to actually do any eloquent and evocative analysis of the flipping mess that is this Algarve Cup insanity.

TWO FLIPPING LOSSES and not like, “wow that was a fluke” losses, full on ass-whipping losses and an ugly probably undeserved draw.

So help me if Hope starts her usual post-loss BS attacks on the ’91/’99ers..  Other teams are better yes, but then again so supposedly are you and your teammates.  That was simply as ass-whipping good old fashion, kind grandpas and grandmas lament not being able to administer anymore (or maybe just mine)..

Thankfully this is not a World Cup year..But if you are wondering it will be the first time in 14 years the US does not medal..  so there is that.

Yeah, that is all I can say on that…

YESTERDAY SUCKED, if you are a US Fan.. Both Yin & Yang Betrayed..

I started writing this last night and then I got annoyed so I stopped.  Yesterday morning I woke up to last 15 or so minutes of the USWNT Algarve Cup Opener…  The Women have won this tournament a record 9 times, including last year.

I should start with, I am one of those USWNT that expects perfection.  They are the yang to the boys continual not quite good enough/disastrously awful yin. I have been watching them since before the 1996 Olympics. I cheered them on in stadiums at WWC 1999 and 2003.  I have seen them more times that I can count and will be seeing them in a few weeks in San Diego.

Every year, I look forward to the Algarve Cup, as a great and continual representation of the best female players in the world and more often then not, we look pretty good.  We have medaled 15 times in the 21 years of the tournament far more than any other nation.  We are the current defending champions.

The ladies look rusty and off their game.  Hope got burned on that Japanese equalizer badly and no please they gave up a late goal.   Japan look good but Dear God, GERMANY IS ALL OVER THIS.  They are still on European Championship form. Ballon d’Oro winner Nadine Angerer looks like she is making a run for her second too.  This is going to be a long and painful tournament.  The ladies need to get their collective asses together and their heads into the tournament.

Now the boys… THAT MATCH WAS ALWAYS JINXED.. what else is there to say?  How many ways did the universe need to tell USSF to just drop it.   We learned nothing form the match, all the hand wringing, meltdowning, drama means NOTHING.  It was a mess from go but it did tell JK anything about any of those players.

That said, I was tweeting: “Dear USMNT TIMMY IS GOING TO BRIZAL.. HE IS GOING, HE IS GOING… NONE OF THE REST OF YOU ARE GOING. HE IS GOING TO BRAZIL”  Again, we would we be without St. Timmy of the Sticks

Dear Sexist Boys of Soccer

Women who talk about football tactics, it’s beautiful. I find that fantastic. And you know what a 4-3-3 is, right?” – Laurent Blanc does his bit for gender equality in response to a question from a female Swedish journalist

“I don’t talk football with women. That’s how I see things. They can go back to their saucepans” – Bernard Lacombe, Aulas’s right-hand man at Lyon, takes exception to a female caller who criticises Karim Benzema during a radio phone-in

The attention that women’s football gets in Sweden is unequalled in the world…It is a surprising thing. They do their work marvelously well and they will continue to do it, but you cannot compare the individual performance of a woman with a man.

“In Europe. they compare me with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. When I come back to Sweden, they compare me with a female player.             

With all due respect to women, they should be paid in proportion to what they generate (financially).”

“Give them [Swedish National Women’s Team] a bicycle with my autograph and that will be enough“. — Zalatan on the women in football.

Dear Sexist Boys of Soccer,

Females should be kept out of the clubhouse that is the beautiful game…    WE . GET . IT .

Your penises are so intrinsically connected to your brains’ functioning that you cannot imagine our uteruses could operate independent of our cerebral processing.

Now truth be told, our uteruses do, in fact, render our understanding of the differences between a standard 4-4-2,  a 4-3-3, and a 4-3-2-1 formation impossible.    And those damn two X chromosomes block any ability our feeble little minds might have to grasp things as simple as the offside rule or handball v. ball-to-hand.

Something as complex as soccer is WAY TOO ADVANCED for us to comprehend.  Only shopping, looking pretty, cooking, cleaning, and providing our men with every whim served with a extra-large helping of ego-stroking, idol-worship.  That is what we are here for looking pretty, sexing up all your fantasies while serving you dinner in our most virginally slutty dress.

Sexism is so pervasive in soccer that moments where someone stands-up against it come as a shock to my system.    What is remarkable about what Zlatan said is that anyone was surprised.   First of all, the line about the attention women’s football getting is Sweden is the unequalled in the world is Zalatan-level BS.  Let’s be real here, Team USA got that title by massive margin.

Even the reaction to Ibra’s comments highlighted the embedded nature of sexism in this sport.  The outrage was directed towards his, admittedly, idiotic comments.  There is no outrage directed at the Swedish FA for its much more insidious sexism.  After all, it was not Zlatan who gave a Volvo to their new, “cap leader,” while completely ignoring their ACTUAL cap leading player because she is well, a she.

Now, many American guys I have read are outraged about his statements, but I have not read any outraged about the FA’s actions.  It is much like the lack of outrage directed at US Soccer when it the Federation completely ignored the USWNT during the 100th Anv celebration weekend last June.  The ladies were annexed to Canada, while the entirety of US Soccer glitterati was lavishly celebrating in DC watching the boys played Germany.

This is the USWNT — World Cup winning, Olympic gold medal winning, Ballon d’Or winning, tons of other trophy winning — program, and it was EXCILED to Canada without a second thought.  The program that gave the world Mia, Julie, Abby, Hope, Michelle, Alex, Heather, Kristine, et al and gave US Soccer a lot of trophies was virtually unrepresented in celebrating US Soccer’s 100th birthday.

I get how sexism is bred within the game, especially outside America.  Boys who show talent from an early age are whisked away from their families and communities to be trained with other boys by men.  There is not a lot of interaction with girls or women as part of the game growing up.  Combine that with the acceptable levels of sexism in society at large, and you get where we are now.  Girls are too alien to the game they know, to believe girls could understand and be part of it.

All is not as hopeless as it seems.   There are some women starting to be part of the men’s game; Sia Massey  and Barbara Berlusconi are shaking up the game with so far mixed results, but starts are always bumpy.

What is funny to me, though, is that soccer seems is most equal of all team sports.  Unlike, say, golf, there is no difference in the playing field.  No pitch equivalent of the ladies T; no softball to baseball differential in ball size; and no differences in the clock like basketball.   It is the SAME game played on the same field with the same ball, by the same rules for the same amount of time.  Soccer is soccer, regardless of gender.

The only difference is the number of fans in the stands and money being made, or not made in the women’s game.   As women, we cannot hope to eliminate sexism in the game until we support and promote the women’s game as much and as often as we do the men’s game.  Supporting women’ club game as well as the women’s international game, grows the game and makes women in the game more acceptable and more normal and that can flow over into the men’s game.  Oddly, I agree with Zlatan on that point

The biggest hope to eradicate sexism in the game are female fans.  Fans not  watching the game to be a pretty accessory for our men but watching the games because WE LOVE IT.   We are the new power in the game.  We travel to matches around the world and we talk, text, tweet and even blog about it.  We support the game, our teams and other women in the game.

Women’s biggest advantage in the game is that we are the last great untapped market.  There is no new money to be made from male fans, but women though.. we are potentially a lot of new money in a lot of new bank accounts.

Money counts, actually it might be the one true equalizer in this game.

Quotes 1 and  2 from From the Guardian

Zalatan quotes: Mirror.co.uk From the Daily Mirror