The IX: Soccer Monday with Annie M. Peterson, Aug. 31, 2020
Tick-tock on how the NWSL's Black players organized — Must-click women's soccer links — Lucy Bronze talks following Lyon's big win this weekend (Is she going to Man City? We'll see!)
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A coalition of Black players from the NWSL has coalesced in the wake of deeply troubling comments by Dell Loy Hansen, owner of the Utah Royals, Real Salt Lake of the MLS and the USL’s Real Monarchs.
A bit of a timeline here:
On Wednesday, NBA players for the Milwuakee Bucks decided not to take the court for a playoff game in their bubble in Florida.
That touched off similar decisions among players in the WNBA, MLS, tennis, and eventually even the NHL.
Real Salt Lake was about to play its first home game before fans — although a limited number of them — at Rio Tinto Stadium. RSL and LAFC players instead posed for a photo arm-in-arm on the field, and the match was called off.
The next day, Hansen went on a radio station that he owns to decry the action, using the word “stabbed” to discuss how he felt the action was disrespectful.
Then it got worse.
The Athletic, including The IX favorite Meg Linehan, came out with an explosive story about Hansen’s history of making racist comments, as well as a racial slur. You can read the excellent piece here.
As expected, Hansen faced immediate backlash, which led to both MLS and NWSL announcing investigations.
Another The IX favorite, Alex Vejar from the Salt Lake Tribune, also detailed racist remarks made by Hansen here.
It eventually led to Hansen’s announcement Sunday that he would sell the team. He wrote a letter apologizing, kind of, for his behavior.
But in the midst of all the outrage, one voice stood out: Utah’s Tziarra King, who said exactly what many of us were thinking.
Here is her Twitter thread, in case you missed it:
So here we are with the revelation that the man who was lauded for helping to put together the NWSL’s Challenge Cup tournament, a celebration of women’s sports, is not a stand-up guy at all. In fact, quite the opposite.
The NWSL became the first professional team sport to come back in the United States in the midst of a pandemic. Is that legacy now tainted because of Dell Loy Hansen?
Indeed, Hansen did much to advance the sport of soccer overall in Utah. Is that now tainted, too?
In the wake of all of this, the Black women of the NWSL came together, much like in Major League Soccer, which saw the emergence of Black Players for Change following the death of George Floyd.
The group coordinated the release their statement on social media.
“Welcome to our voice. We won’t be silenced.”
Black Lives Matter.
(Reminder: First, the underlined words are the links. Second. CLICK these, even if you’ve already read them. ESPECIALLY NOW, as newsrooms are forced to make difficult choices. Clicks = Attention from editors, producers and webmasters. Third, if you want to push out stuff you’ve written or read, email me! apeterson@ap.
The NWSL had news this morning, announcing that the Fall Series will be broadcast globally on Twitch. That’s in addition to the games that will be available domestically on CBS.
This is not women’s soccer related per se, but please read this essay by my friend Howard Bryant of ESPN.
Stephanie Yang writes an important piece about how the NWSL lags behind the WNBA when it comes to social justice issues.
Our fearless leader Howard Megdal on the NWSL’s handling of Dell Loy Hansen, for Forbes.
Rachel Bachman looked at the Hansen issue for the Wall Street Journal.
ESPN’s Graham Hays on the Black players of the NWSL.
Ken McGuire on the return of women’s soccer in England for The AP.
The Denver Post did a nice job on this feature on North Carolina’s Kristen Hamilton.
Kelley O’Hara won’t play in the fall series, from Alex Vejar at the Salt Lake Tribune.
Megan Rapinoe opts out of the fall series, too. From SI.
Meg Linehan and Nicole Auerbach of The Athletic looked at how college football’s fall paved the way to more TV games for the NWSL.
Two North Carolina players depart because of uncertain season.
Yes, and there was a pretty major match for women’s soccer this past weekend. The Champions League Final between Lyon and Wolfsburg. See Lucy Bronze’s comments below!
Good column on the juggernaut that is Lyon from The Guardian. Here’s the Guardian’s game story.
The Equalizer’s Blair Newman took a look at Lyon.
Katie Whyatt broke the news that Pernille Harder is headed to Chelsea for The Telegraph.
An aside here: a colleague messaged me this weekend to ask whether Lyon (at full strength) could defeat the USWNT. Let me know what you think! Drop us a line at the IX, or message me on Twitter. You can try to email me, but AP’s email filters are knida strict, so I may not see it.
TWEETS of the WEEK
And y’all know I’m a sucker for babies. Welcome Declan! And congrats Jeff!
Five at The IX: Lucy Bronze
Lucy Bronze became the first English player — man or woman — to win three straight Champions League titles. She’s almost certain to be headed to Manchester City. But she was celebrating her last go with Lyon on Sunday. Here’s what she said postgame:
QUESTION: Was this one different?
BRONZE: I think all of them are different, every time, every single time. It’s special every single time you make the final, it’s special to win another one. I think what makes this one the most special is five in a row. I ca, and n’t see any club, any women’s team ever being able to kind of accomplish that achievement ever again. It was a phenomenal achievement that the club’s done and yeah, I think that’s what makes this one on the most special. It’s hard to get to the final every year, let alone win it every time so I think for that it’s very, very much special.
QUESTION: What is special about the club, Lyon?
BRONZE: I think what’s special is the squad. I mean, people said, `Oh it’s the best time to play Lyon at the minute’ because we were missing so many players, yet the first half we were still a better team by a longshot. The game was almost finished by halftime. I think that’s what makes the team so special. We had a Ballon d’Or player missing, we had the French captain missing, Nikita Paris is out, yet we’re still tearing it up. The sqaud’s still there. We’ve got the strongest squad probably in the world, well, definitely in the world.
QUESTION: Next for you? WSL?
BRONZE: Yeah, probably. This is my last game with the French team, for now, but I’m happy to finish on a high like this. Winning the Champions League, I don’t think there’s any other any better way to finish playing with the team.
QUESTION: What would you say if I suggested a return to Manchester City?
BRONZE: I think everybody’s gonna say that because that’s where I went before, but right now my contract with Lyon doesn’t even finish till tomorrow night. So after tomorrow night you can come and ask me on Tuesday, because till until and I’ll still be a Lyon player.
QUESTION: But have you decided?
BRONZE: I don’t think anything’s 100% at the minute, just have to wait and see like everybody else.