Since the end of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada, much attention has been focused on the gender pay gap between the U.S. Women’s World Cup-winning national team and the men’s national team. The complaints about the wage disparity have given rise to comparisons between men’s and women’s soccer. Not least is the debate about the quality of women’s soccer in comparison to the men’s game.
Could a women’s coach like the legendary Pia Sundhage successfully coach a men’s team? Could Carli Lloyd bang in goals on the regular with FC Barcelona (certainly not with Real Madrid)?
Advocates for parity in quality between men’s and women’s soccer need only look at a recent friendly match between Australia’s “Matildas”, their women’s national soccer team, and the all-male Newcastle Jets U-15 youth team. The Australian WNT had scheduled the match to prepare for their participation in the 2016 Olympics this summer. What better way to train than with an easy scrimmage against a bunch of teenage scrubs?
In a match that the Sydney Morning Herald’s Claire Siracusa labeled “surprising”, the young Jets beat the Matildas with a scoreline of 7-0. Granted, the Matildas were missing some of their normal starters — but co-captains Lisa De Vanna and Claire Polkinghorne were present.
The Women’s Game editor Ann Odong tweeted that the defeat was down to “positioning and fitness.” That’s right. The heavy 7-0 defeat to acne-inflicted high schoolers was all about positioning and fitness. Right on.