Soccer Monday with Annie Peterson, May 6, 2019

Thank you, the roster and Allie Long's interesting thoughts, and a conversation with Brenda Elsey on the women's game in Latin America

(Editor’s Note: Subscribers, thank you for your support! You’re aboard for five different women’s sports newsletters in your inbox every week, and helping us build the necessary infrastructure for women’s sports media in the process. If you know someone who would live The IX as much as we all do, forward this along!)

A Long story

First off, wanted to personally say thanks to all of our subscribers. And I’d like to say thanks to all the people who reach out to me each week, either by email or DM on Twitter. I really want this to feel like a gathering place, like a discussion with like-minded people at the local coffee shop.

The hope is that eventually we can create some conversations that I can include on this platform. The roster poll was kind of my first foray into this realm.

One of the reasons that I love covering women’s soccer is because of the community. I’ve made a lot of great friends because of this game. This is also a labor of love. AP keeps me super busy (Like the NBA Playoffs are going on and I had my first-ever quadruple overtime game! Yikes!) but I realize that there are limited spaces dedicated to women’s sports, so it’s important for me to be a small part of the IX — even though sometimes I wake up on Monday morning and think `What the heck am I gonna write about?’

That said I did not wake up this morning wondering what to write about. I want to talk about the World Cup roster.

A bunch of media types jumped on a conference call with Allie Long and Megan Rapinoe, graciously set up by the Reign (Thank you!)

I wanted to get Long’s take on why she thought she was selected. Because, in all honesty, I was surprised about her inclusion — and Morgan Brian’s — on the roster. This is not to knock Long, I seriously thought that McCall Zerboni was a lock among the midfielders.

So I asked Long what she thought gave her the edge, and what she thought were her her strengths to contribute to the club.

She added a wrinkle I hadn’t initially thought of. Ellis talked about experience, but Long suggested relationships also played a role.

Here’s what she said:

“I think that, well, No. 1, playing in the Olympics and (Ellis) seeing me in that environment, and just being on the team the last three years has given her a comfort level in knowing what she has in me. I think that I can offer consistency, and I’m someone in the midfield who can calm it down and just keep possession on the ball and win tackles off the ball.

“I think that just being consistent and her knowing what she has in me and me having the experience. And also the chemistry I feel I have with the players. I know that she mentioned to me that that was something that she appreciated, just knowing that I had played with Tobin, Lindsey, Pinoe, Alex, and so many players and have good relationships with them on and off the field. I think that played a role as well.”


This Week in Women’s Soccer

Reminder: First, the underlined words are the links. Second. CLICK these, even if you’ve already read them. Clicks = Attention from editors, producers and webmasters. Third, if you want to push out stuff you’ve written or read, email me! apeterson@ap.org.

Friends, there were a lot of links this week with the roster and all. There’s no way I can include all of them. These are just some of the ones that I collected while covering the NBA. If you’re a writer and I missed your story, apologies.

Hey guys, I wrote a story about the state of women’s soccer in Latin America. It’s kind of the latest in an ongoing look that the haves and have-nots in the women’s game. Also, I was able to speak to Brenda Elsey. You should all know that name! See below.

FIFA is adding a women’s team of the year to its annual awards.

My colleague Rob Harris covered the women’s FA Cup final at Wembley. Seriously, this guy has the best gig in the AP.

AP’s Jerome Pugmire on Marie-Antoinette Katoto getting left off France’s World Cup squad.

Official, official: Hegerberg isn’t playing in the World Cup.

My story on the U.S. roster for France.

Graham Hays’ look at the roster for ESPN.

John Halloran on the roster for American Soccer Now.

Jonathan Tannenwald questions why Casey Short didn’t make the roster.

The great Nancy Armour opines on the roster for USA Today.

Meg Linehan’s look at the roster for The Athletic.

Hey, I wrote about the roster, too.

Interesting analysis from Jeff Kassouf for The Equalizer on the how the team’s X-factor has yet to emerge.

And gee whiz, Neil Morris did a nice job on this Jess McDonald story for the Equalizer.

And apologies to Caitlin Murray that I didn’t get this in the last IX. She did a great in-depth look at Olivia Moultrie’s situation. Click on this please.

NBC Sports with a look at why Ada Hegenberg isn’t playing in the World Cup.

Alex Morgan talks to Fox about pay equity.


Five at The IX: Author Brenda Elsey

I got a chance to speak at length with Brenda Elsey, she’s an associate professor at Hofstra and co-author of the book “Futbolera, a History of Women and Sports in Latin America.” She’s also one of the hosts of the Burn It All Down podcast. She’s not only knowledgeable, she’s really interesting. I am fascinated with the state of women’s soccer globally, that’s one of the reasons I wrote about Latin America for the AP, and Elsey is the expert.

You can find her on Twitter at @Politicultura. And you can order the book here.

QUESTION: Players in Latin America seem to face greater faces different cultural challenges in making the game more equitable, what do you see are the obstacles for women’s soccer.

ELSEY: So the one thing, I guess I would say it’s a little misleading to frame it in cultural terms. Because that assumes that somehow Latin America is more sexist than any other place. And I would not argue that at all, because soccer in the United States is easier for women to break into because soccer is not the national sport. It was always more acceptable to play soccer, which was almost identified as more feminine, than U.S. football. Whereas in the case of Latin America., the better parallel would be to think about the NFL and how many women would play U.S. football with the same resources. Personally I would but I would sort of bristle against putting the cultural over the historical reasons, which is that soccer was so important to Latin American identity, national identity and ideas of masculinity. That women playing really challenged those ideas in a way that they didn’t in the United States. Secondly, there’s no Title IX in Latin America, so there’s no way I’m playing at a university level.

Of course there’s sexism. I mean no denying that. I’m just saying that I don’t find just sexism to be like the main reason, like culturally it’s more sexist than the United States. I’m not sure about that, I think that kind of puts it into dangerous framing.

And then I would finally say that the other reason is that come of the institutions of global soccer, especially in Latin America, have been very corrupt. The money that goes into development, supposedly, for girls and women, there’s often an incentive for institutions to keep that money, because they are not really regulated and they don’t have to account for it, so that’s a major problem as well.

There are things, like ideas about maternal health, that that historically that made it hard for women to play. The case that is most difficult is the Brazilian women who were legally banned from laying women’s soccer, as well as sports like water polo and wrestling and a couple of other sports, that were legally banned between 1941 and 1983. So that’s the most extreme case where it’s an actual case where there is a legal prohibition. But I wouldn’t tie that to culture so much as I would tie that to politics.

QUESTION: Right, perhaps maybe cultural in that sense but that it’s not sexism, it’s just the culture of sport in those countries?

ELSEY: For example, before the ban in Brazil women’s had created a very dynamic league in the late 1930s early 1940s in Rio and so it wasn’t always like that. As women’s soccer became more popular those politicians found it to be more of a challenge and more of a threat, that they could sort of capitalize on certain groups of people that disagreed with women playing. So you know women have played soccer in Latin America since the early 1990s.

QUESTION: It it seems, and I may be wrong, like women in football are making incremental improvements in their situations especially, recently. It feels like the situation with women’s football in Latin America is getting better.

ELSEY: I think that organization have done tremendous work and they have achieved some major milestones. I don’t know that the situation has improved across the board, because the professional league in Columbia really collapsing. That started like three years ago, there was a lot of hope and enthusiasm about it. Also there’s been a group in Colombia that filed an investigation against the training staff, that said that a player was sexually harassed and touched and appropriately while still minor. The federation has yet to respond to that. So there’s so much to do, they’re treated so poorly.

Their situation, I think it’s better in terms of they’re very organized, they’ve got social media audiences that really support them. They have connections with the feminist movement that they haven’t had in the past. I think you could also chalk it up to the dynamism of Ni Una Menos, and the feminist movements in Latin America that have changed the idea of what feminism is, and included a lot more things like women’s sports. So yeah, I think they’re in better shape to challenge that patriarchal structure.

Of course it’s very exciting that the Argentine football association has said it’s going to contract professional players. That’s super exciting. That’s awesome. I have not seen a figure of what they’re going to pay them. But it feels like very much like we’re on the brink of a very good moment. So I’m hoping this World Cup, is like filled the audience can put pressure on these institutions. To really improve the standards for women and girls, youth soccer too.

QUESTION: That kind of brings up another question. Do you feel like a lot of these women and movements are wisely using the women’s World Cup and the attention on it as a platform for change?

ELSEY: I think they’re doing the best that they can with the resources that they have to build momentum during this World Cup. And I think there also is an audience out there for women’s soccer that is really peaking, especially ones that are involved with traditional men’s soccer, and looking for a feminist take on footbal feminista, not just fooball feminino — so the the idea of a feminist football, re-thinking some of the worst things about the men’s the game and looking for a different type of game. I think there’s an audience out there. I don’t think that the federations, unfortunately, especially thinking about Brazil but also to an extent in Argentina, I don’t see that they’ve really built the momentum up. It comes from the grassroots. I think of the group La Nuestra, which is a grassroots organization that works with girls in traditionally poor neighborhoods outside of Buenos Aires. I see them using the World Cup and going to matches as a group and trying to build enthusiasm.

I’ve been interviewing some players. And the ones I’ve interviewed expressed disappointment that the federations haven’t seemed to match their efforts in promoting it. They really hope that this World Cup that is able to bring it to a respectable level of resources.


Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By Lindsay Gibbs, @Linzsports ThinkProgress
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal High Post Hoops
Thursdays: Golf
By Carly Grenfell, @Carlygren PGA.com
Fridays: Hockey
By: Erica Ayala, @ELindsay08 NWHL Broadcaster

Written by Annie Peterson