The IX: Soccer Monday by Annie M. Peterson, March 22, 2021
Lindsey Horan speaks, David Dobrik dropped: Reminders that we must remain vigilant in calling out sexism and abuse — Woso links — Becky Sauerbrunn talks, we listen
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Two things happened in the WoSo world this week that go to the heart of the sexism and frankly the danger that so many women regularly face, and have faced — myself included.
First, Lindsey Horan revealed in more detail what she went through at PSG under head coach Farid Benstiti. He’s now the coach at OL Reign.
Horan had previously spoken about the criticism she received about her weight. But on the Butterfly Road podcast (see link below), hosted by Cari Roccaro and Ginny McGowan, Horan elaborated on some of the verbal abuse she suffered.
One moment especially stands out: An assistant slapped a snack from Horan’s hands.
This is the kind of thing that can spur an eating disorder.
Kudos to Lindsey because she seems to have a more positive perspective on her body, and loves soccer again.
The other concerning thing was the revelation about YouTube celebrity David Dobrik, one of the investors in Angel City FC.
An article in The Insider last week detailed credible rape allegations against a member of Dobrik’s Vlog Squad in 2018. The woman said she was plied with alcohol and was unable to consent.
Dobrik had a history of problematic behavior. Stephanie Yang detailed some of them here for All for XI.
Meg Linehan broke the news that Dobrik was no longer part of the team’s ownership group.
“Angel City was built to lead by example, to set higher expectations, and to do the right thing, even when the right thing is hard,” Angel City President Julie Uhrman said in an internal letter. “To that end, David Dobrik is no longer an owner of Angel City.”
The team’s Twitter account issued this on Saturday:
Ultimately, Angel City did the right thing. But supporters’ group Rebellion 99 said it expected more.
Angel City Valkries also spoke out:
I don’t believe Dobrik wipes out all the good things that Angel City has done, or will do. But everyone can do better.
One other point: If the NCAA Tournament weight room debacle has taught us anything, don’t count on people/organizations to do the right thing. Keep up the pressure, keep asking for accountability. That’s the only way to make change.
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GREAT news: The Women’s Super League has a groundbreaking broadcast deal. From my AP colleague Rob Harris, click for the awesome photo of Sam Kerr.
Annie Costabile from the Chicago Sun-Times with an excellent piece on Arin Wright and having a baby while playing pro soccer.
The Athletic’s Katie Whyatt with a must-read feature on Alex Scott.
One more excellent piece for The Athletic from Marcus Thompson II on the movement to elevate Black women in American soccer.
Jeff Carlisle from ESPN talks to Alexis Ohanian about how women’s soccer is a better investment than MLS.
Kansas City puts preferred pronouns on their roster. So does the Reign.
ahoo’s take on the David Dobrik situation.
The Equalizer’s John Holloran with a nice story on Evelyne Viens.
Alexandra Popp is among those questioning “punishment” of male coach by making him train women. From AP.
One more from AP: FIFA is going to open up the voting on future Women’s World Cup hosts. Good.
The Athletics’ fun NFT investing guide for American Soccer. This is a thing in the NBA. Don’t ask me to explain it.
Five at The IX: BECKY SAUERBRUNN!
Becky Sauerbrunn spoke to the media last week and addressed both social justice issues and what’s going on with the Portland Thorns.
Question: Players on the national team talked about what that they were doing to support racial justice sort of behind the scenes. Can you talk about some of that work?
Sauerbrunn: So I’m sure you’ve heard of the Black Women’s Player Collective, and I’m one of the advocates for the group. Whatever initiatives that they’re really starting, whether it’s programing with some of their mini pitches or even if it’s looking at each market and wondering how we can beef up maybe H.R. or making sure there’s a point person for people to go to if they feel like they’ve been racially abused, are discriminated against. So policies like that, that can really help players feel psychologically and physically safe in the markets that they play for. So there’s a lot of work going on and a lot of it is being spearheaded by the Black Women’s Player Collective, and they’re doing wonderful, wonderful work.
Question: Can you talk about the process of coming back from the national team and facing a long preseason.
Sauerbrunn: Because of playing with the national team, it feels like I’ve already gone through two preseasons, because we started pretty early in the year with women’s national team scheduling. And so I’ll have been through a couple of preseasons and feel pretty played in. And then you come back, for me to Portland, and everyone just kind of in the first strides of pre-season. I’ve kind of gone through the initial physical loading and everything. So a lot of the national team players, not just the Americans, but the ones that are coming in like Rocky with Costa Rica or (Kuikka) coming in from Finland and the Canadians, is that we kind of have to do some extra work after some training sessions just because we’re at just a different physical level, because we put in the work earlier than some of the rest of the players. And so it’s just a little bit of of individual maintenance and sometimes pushing on, when some of the players that have been here that are pros are just kind of starting that work. And so it’s been a lot of work with the sports performance group, there’s been a lot of communication between the US women’s national team and the Portland sports performance Group. And so it’s just kind of individualized things. But it’s been pretty seamless and it’s been great coming from women’s national team back to Portland and just really having a lot of time here. I think that’s what’s great about the extended pre-season for the NWSL, is that I get to spend now four to six weeks here with Portland, just working everything that we want to work on as a group and really kind of gelling and working on that chemistry. And so I’ve really enjoyed it and I think it’s going pretty well.
Question: With the national team, there’s always been a big focus on fighting for equality and pushing against the status quo. So my question is sort of how do you balance doing your job with feeling the need to address those things? How do you navigate that balance?
Sauerbrunn: I think I’m going to tackle this two ways. Let’s say my work with the players association, with the national team: We want to make players that want to be engaged and want to give that energy and that time, like we want to bring them into the fold. But we also understand that if you need to focus more on yourself and more on soccer, that’s what you need to do. So you’re not as engaged. So when we bring it to the social justice stuff, it’s more like we do need kind of more people, all hands on deck sort of thing. So it’s trying to to bring people and engage them in things that they’re really passionate about. I think this Portland group has been phenomenal in that we really want to have a big outreach when it comes to community impact. Luckily we’ve got people on the team that have a really good relationship with the community. So there are little things that are happening. And then hopefully, as the season really starts going, we can have more and more of that outreach.
Question: Can you talk a little bit about how the Thorns have progressed and evolves nas a team from when you first arrived?
Sauerbrunn: I think Mark really wanted last year to be this kind of like Thorns 2.0, like ushering a new era. And so we worked a lot on culture and just building a really strong foundation. And part of that culture was also standards and what we want to be known for, what’s our identity. When you watch us on the field will you know that these are the Thorns. I think we put in a lot of work last year, so we’re starting from a different level at the start of this preseason. And you can feel it. The tactics are more ingrained. You see people really wanting to play the way that Mark wants us to play, and the way that we really want to play. I think it’s progressed really nicely. We’re really hammering home certain things and we’re still very much working on culture and just trying to make this group so strong. Inevitably we’re going to hit some tough moments during the season, but we have the foundation to really hold us strong through those moments.
Question: What’s it going to be like to have fans back?
Sauerbrunn: I think it’s going to be absolutely phenomenal to have fans back in the stands, and I really hope we can find a way to do it extremely safe. That’s the number one thing is to make sure that it’s done safely. But I’ve never played at Providence with fans — well, fans that would be supporting me and not, not supporting me. So it’ll be really exciting for me because I have never experienced it. And so I know what it’s like to play against the thorns when they have 18-20 thousand people rooting for them. Really for me, it’ll be quite the experience for the first time to be playing with and for the fans.