Monday, July 18, 2011

World Cup 2011 -- Women's Soccer

I'm not much of a viewer of sports, but I thoroughly enjoyed watching last night's World Cup finale between the US and Japan. Even though the sight of Hope Solo's sad little face afterward was kind of heartbreaking, I was happy the Japanese team won. Not only have they never won or even made it to the quarterfinals before--so what a milestone for them!--but they also really earned it. And, as the German sportscasters kept saying after the game (I'm in Germany right now), what it really came down to was that the Japanese team had better nerves; they simply didn't break under pressure like the American team did during the penalty kicks.

All that said, I was also pleased to see that all the people I've been around seemed pretty much as interested in women's soccer as they were in men's soccer in previous years I've been overseas. Of course, Germany got knocked out of the running several games ago, so people weren't quite as fanatical as I've seen them when Germany's made it to the finals.

In a similar vein, my father just sent me three interesting articles about women's soccer, two of which are German. I've provided brief summary/translations below.

The first, from the NY Times discusses the stigma surrounding homosexuality on the Nigerian women's soccer team.

The second, from the German takes a more positive spin on lesbian soccer players by profiling Germany's goalie, Ursuala Holl, who is one of the few openly gay soccer plays on a national team and just married her partner last year. Holl discusses how open and accepting all of her teammates, coaches and fans have been. But, she adds, there's still a stigma around homosexuality in the sport--especially for gay male soccer players--so she wouldn't necessarily advise others to come out since it's more of a personal matter. Still, she's happy hasn't had any negative responses to her coming out or her marriage.

The last of the three articles, also in German and from Die Zeit reports on the rampant sexual abuse and harassment in Nigerian women's soccer. The article considers the fact that most female players and many others will admit that trainers and coaches often ask for sexual favors or require that players sleep with them in order to get a chance of making it on the team, but, do to the fear of retribution and the very real possibility that they would lose their jobs, no one is willing to speak out or against the abusers.

Just some food for thought as we wrap up the latest World Cup cycle...

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