Gender inequality has been a heated topic of discussion since well before the US Women’s National Team called the issue front and center after winning the World Cup last summer. From field conditions to wage gap, the conversation could go round and round for hours, but those are topics for another day. No, today we’ll discuss the most recent events that show US Soccer has a lot of work to do on the feminist front.
On February 29th, US Soccer unveiled their new soccer crest to the world in an unconventional and grandiose fashion. Throughout the day social media exploded with posts from national team supporters and US Soccer players who had received a special package from US Soccer revealing the new crest. And by US Soccer players, I mean men’s players.
Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter lit up with post after post of beloved USMNT players sporting the new logo. Tim Howard, Brad Guzan, DeAndre Yedlin, Jozy Altidore, Gyasi Zardes, Geoff Cameron, Matt Miazga, and Brad Evans among others took time to snap a photo with the crest, but what about the women? I’m almost certain not a single photo from a women’s first team player was posted, leading me to believe they were not included in the release.
Or perhaps that’s just us jumping to conclusions. The USWNT was probably just too busy to take photos as they prepared for the She Believes Cup, a huge tournament that would pit the world champs against the most competitive teams in the women’s game that was scheduled to kick-off just days after the launch. Since the tournament was the first set of matches played after the new crest was released, surely the women would get to debut the new crest on their match day kits? Oh wait… That tournament wasn’t even televised. Supporters were forced to stream the matches via an ESPN3 broadcast that was so blurry that even if they did debut the new crest you wouldn’t be able to tell.
But we’re over that. Now US Soccer has finally launched the new 2016 kits that are set to debut Friday March 25th, when the USMNT face Guatemala in World Cup Qualifying. A great number of supporters have “mixed reviews” on the design of the new kits (aka they are kind of ugly), but if you were interested in purchasing one of the new shirts you will find two things.
First, an issue that has been brought up in the past, Nike still does not offer USWNT replica jerseys in men’s sizes. In a previous statement from Nike they have defended this practice saying they “rarely heard” of men hoping to purchase a WNT jersey, and that offering the “starred crest” in men’s sizing would falsely project the that the MNT had won World Cup titles that they had not.
To me it seems outrageous to think that any US Soccer supporter, female or male, wouldn’t want to sport the crest of a World Champion team or furthermore proudly wear the name of their favorite athlete on the back of their shirt. Carli Lloyd was named the best female player in the world! She is an incredible athlete and role model worthy of admiration from both men and women, but her jersey will only be available in women’s sizing.
Which leads me into the second thing you might notice when shopping for a new US kit. The women’s “replica” jerseys don’t look like the same shirts released by US soccer. Isn’t the point of purchasing a replica jersey that it’s the same as the athletes?
The women’s replica shirt features a slim fit and exaggerated deep v-neck. The photos of the kits released feature either a slight v-neck or a crew cut neckline, both of with are a far cry from the one currently available for purchase online in the US Soccer shop. I do understand that to some supporters the low cut top would be preferred, but labeling it as a replica and not offering a true representation of the actual USWNT shirt is aggravating.
The truth is, slowly yet surely the footballing world is making progress in terms of bridging the gap of gender equality and combatting sexism in the sport, but there are times like these that remind us there is still a great deal of work to do. Keeping the discussion going to raise awareness about the inconsistencies regarding gender is the only way to keep things progressing for positive change.