Watershed moment? It sure feels like the Euro final was BIG — Is Jaelene Daniels really worth it?

The IX: Soccer Monday with Annie M. Peterson, August 1, 2022

Happy Soccer Monday! We’ve often heard that women’s soccer has arrived. After the 2019 World Cup, for example. But the Euro may have taken it all to the next level.

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I mean, Shania Twain everyone.

In case you’re a reader of The IX that follows another one of our six sports more closely, the final round of the European Championships have been happening for a month. On Sunday was the final, and England triumphed over Germany in extra time, 2-1.

This was a big moment for the Lionesses, playing under former Netherlands coach Sarina Wiegman, who took over the team after its 2019 World Cup coach, Phil Neville, bolted for Inter Miami. Wiegman has only been on the job (formally) since last year.

Holy Cow:

And look at the crowd to welcome home Germany!

But if you read the media’s coverage of the tournament, the final was not just about England’s triumph. It was bigger.

The images of Chloe Kelly doffing her jersey to celebrate the winning goal were reminiscent — obviously — of Brandi Chastain in the 1999 World Cup at the Rose Bowl — one of the first watershed moments in the sport.

Take for instance ESPN’s headline:

England win Women’s Euro 2022, but the tournament’s biggest victor is the sport itself!

I mean, the exclamation point really says it all.

Some of the other coverage about how “big” the event was:

Sportico wrote about how the tournament has scored with audiences.

AP wrote about the scene in England, where fans watched on big screens in Trafalger Square. On Monday, there was a rally there to celebrate.

Grant Wahl looked at the context in his newsletter this morning.

The Guardian had a nice piece from former England captain Faye White.

Katie Whyatt on the implications

Even CNN was talking about what it meant for England and beyond.

The Guardian on Chloe Kelly’s celebration.

Henry Bushnell of Yahoo Sports puts it all together.

Deadline on the massive TV audiences.

Even Town and Country was there to record Prince William’s reactions

But let’s all remember this, too. The Africa Cup of Nations also got record crowds. Here’s a nice peice from The Equalizer about that. South Africa defeated Morocco 2-1 in the final. Over 50,000 went the the game.

The Athletic also looked at the success in Africa.

The success of the African tournament has even spurred calls for Equal Pay.

And let’s not forget the Copa America Feminina, which enjoyed a sellout crowd at its final in Colombia. Brazil — coached by former USWNT coach Pia Sundhage — won 1-0.

AP had a good story earlier this month on the growth of the women’s game in South America.

ESPN also took a look at how other teams are rising to Brazil’s level

El Pais did a nice video about girls playing in Colombia.

Here’s the question: Does this all mean that women’s soccer has arrived? What’s the ceiling? I expect we’ll be pondering this question A LOT next summer.

And for those of you too young to remember this (and what Shania was referencing in her tweet), please take a trip down memory lane with me:

Other links of note:

Pablo Maurer of The Athletic, with an assist from Meg Linehan, track down surviving players of the Craig League, in this delightful piece.

Jeff Kassouf took a look at the three main talking points from England’s victory for the Equalizer.

Just Women’s Sports on Jess Fishlock calling out the NWSL’s officiating.

Sue Bird becomes minority owner at Gotham.

Mia Fishel talked to the Athletic’s Steph Yang about playing for Tigres.

Ah yes, more Jaelene (Hinkle) Daniels controversy.

Seth Vertelney for Pro Soccer wire on how Daniels is more of a liability at this point, on and off the field.

Meredith Cash takes a look at the Daniels story for Insider.

Declines to play? Interesting headline from SI. She refused to play. It wasn’t a choice presented to the team.

Five at The IX: Sean Nahas

So here’s a bit of Sean Nahas’ answer when Steph Yang asked him about the situation. I thought it was commendable that Nahas was focused on making sure the players and the LGBTQ community were celebrated. But here’s my question: At what point does it Daniels become a liability in terms of the soccer team’s business, both in terms of ticket sales and her refusal to play in games for “personal reasons.”

OK, so hang with me here. This is the same type of decision that Washington State faced with former football coach Nick Rolovich. He sought a religious exemption for getting the COVID vaccine. But at a certain point the Cougars decided Rolovich wasn’t worth both the trouble and the special accommodation, and he was dismissed.

In the end, I’ll reference back to Katelyn Best’s open letter to Jaelene from 2018, which remains the best commentary on this drama that will not die.

Question from Steph Yang: You’ve got fans waving pride flags you know your captain wearing a rainbow armband but you have another player publicly declaring that she opposes support of those things and I’m just wondering how you approach that on a professional level in terms of keeping your locker room coherent, and also on a personal level, just as a human being in the situation where a lot of people are expressing a lot of opinions at you at the same time?

Sean Nahas: Yeah, look, I think everyone’s gonna have their opinions towards me and that’s OK. I understand. It is a tough, tough situation and I don’t take it lightly. My thought process in with the players that, and even the fan base, but even the players that are in that community and celebrating tonight with the fans, my obligation at the end of the day was making sure that everything that was happening off the field was about them.

When I came into the stadium today, the one thing that I said was it was probably a distraction that we all knew was gonna happen. I’ve said it before, I don’t necessarily have to agree with what people think and what they choose to believe and so on. Just like people don’t believe in things that I do and so on. But I look at it from the position that I’m in and how I treat the players and the things that I talked to him about pregame — which I don’t want, that’s private — but making sure that they understood. I’ll read you one of the quotes that that I wrote down for the players today. I think it’s important but again, I don’t think everyone needs to be privy to things that we do here but “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” And the other one I said to them, “There’s there’s nothing more beautiful and powerful than someone who chooses to be themselves.” I think that’s the one thing that I wanted to make sure that these players were celebrated in that way. And I told them how I felt about them personally, I’ve never done anything to waiver from that.

The decision in terms of the situation that maybe we’re in is definitely a unique one and I can understand the frustrations for sure. But it’s really how I treat the players here and what I say to them and making sure that my actions follow up. People’s private decisions and things along those lines, that’s things that they have to they have to manage and they have to be understanding of what comes with it. My job is to also make sure that those that are in that celebrating mode are in that community that they know how I personally feel about them regardless of the situation that may maybe they’re thrown into. Look, I understand what comes with it. I understand the dynamic. I understand the whole piece. But, I wasn’t gonna do anything to not have those players wear those jerseys tonight. That was that was a massive thing. What we have to remember is, it’s the second time that they’ve worn those jerseys and I know how powerful it was for them, and how much it means for them. And my number one thing was nothing is going to come in between that, because that’s important to them and that means something to them and I stood by that.

Written by Annie Peterson