The IX: Soccer Monday with Annie M. Peterson, May 31, 2021
Check out FIFA's Benchmark Report — Lots of woso links — Sam Mewis explains her return to the Courage
(Hi! Howard Megdal here. The IX helps build the necessary infrastructure for women’s sports media. By connecting these worlds, it gives women’s sports the networking boost men’s sports can take for granted.
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It’s Memorial Day in the United States. Taking time out today to remember my dad, who served in World War II. And thank you to all others who have served.
There was some breaking news this morning in tennis, with Naomi Osaka withdrawing from the French Open to focus on her mental health. There’s no doubt our Joey Dillon will be diving into this for Tennis Tuesday.
Osaka is taking time to focus on her mental heath, and I certainly hope people will honor that. There is obviously a larger conversation to be had about player obligations and media access, which certainly requires further consideration and a nuanced approach. I hope to address it in a future edition of The IX. I think it’s a worthy conversation to have. If you have any ideas, please share them with me. DMs are open.
This past week FIFA released its significant Benchmark Report on Women’s Football. You can read it here. If you’re interested in the global game, the report is chock full of insights.
I wrote about it for The Associated Press here.
The report is important on numerous fronts. It emphasizing some of the things we already know about the game, like the fact that better coaches, better salaries and better facilities make better teams.
Players on championship teams were paid better than other teams in 73% of the leagues surveyed. Fifty percent of teams with better facilities won a league title in the past five years.
The clubs and leagues self-reported financial data. Japan and China reported the highest revenues of more than $1 million, but 70 percent of women’s clubs operated at a loss. The National Women’s Soccer League did not report financial data.
The report is something of a roadmap for women’s teams globally. But down in the weeds, it also shows the gulf of inequities within the women’s game.
(Granted, there are inequities in men’s soccer also. Crappy facilities and poor salaries abound.)
But if the decision-makers can stop treating women’s soccer as the little sister of men’s soccer, and think of it as a stand-alone enterprise, perhaps progress could be made.
I’ve often said it in the past: Women’s soccer has tremendous financial potential because much of the market is still untapped.
Sarai Bareman, FIFA’s chief women’s football officer, says so too:
“Women’s football is the single biggest growth opportunity for football today. And to meet these conversations, it’s really important that we have data, we have facts, we have analysis on the financial, the commercial context, the governance structures, on all the aspects of the professional football ecosystem.”
An aside: Appreciate Clive Tyldesley, who was on the CBS broadcast of the men’s Champions League final and said: “And now, Christian Pulisic, set to become the first American male to cross the white line into a Champion’s League final, as nine women have done before him.”
There’s going to be more news this week concerning the international game. You can follow me (and AP Sports!) on Twitter for the latest.
(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! firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Athletic’s Paul Tenorio reports that the NWSL is considering a new discovery process for Oliva Moultrie.
The Oregonian reports that the NWSL rejected the Thorn’s discovery claim for Moultire.
The Equalizer’s Jeff Kassouf on the FIFA Benchmark Report.
Tom Garry for The Telegraph also took a look at the report.
Florida State’s Jaelin Howell wins this year’s MAC Hermann Trophy.
I wrote about Sam Mewis’ return to the North Carolina Courage for The AP.
Jayda Evans for the Seattle Times wrote about Rose Lavelle’s return to the NWSL over the weekend.
Loved this on the women’s soccer trading card market from Stephanie Yang for The Athletic.
Emma Hruby makes the case for Moultrie to play, for Yahoo Sports.
The USWNT Olympic send-off series has been announced.
Andy Frye does a Q and A with Brandi Chastain for Forbes.
The National Law Review looks at the Moultrie situation: Dense, but worth your time.
Tragedy for Cincinnati’s soccer team: Sophomore Ally Sidloski drowned.
Finally, y’all may or may not know about my love for volleyball. Bria Felicien did this really awesome story for The Black Sportswoman. Worth your time. And subscribe!!!!
Five at The IX: SAM MEWIS
Sam Mewis spoke to the media about her decision to come back to the Courage. Here’s what she said.
Mewis: A smile started to creep up on me as I was driving in and walking into the locker room, and a lot has changed here, but a lot obviously is still the same. There’s still such a great energy around. Everybody in our locker room looks great. There’s like a new carpet and new logo and new lockers. So it looks great. And the first session was awesome. It’s great to be back and definitely going to take a little adjustment back to the heat and the Courage way of playing, but I’m really happy and excited to be here.
Question: What ultimately made you decide to return, potentially with the option to stay at Man City?
Mewis: I think a lot of things went into it. Both options were such great opportunities for me. And I felt like I had a win-win situation. Obviously, I love the Courage and I’ve played here for a long time, and just knowing that returning to the NWSL was going to bring me back here was something that I didn’t want to leave to chance any longer. So I’m definitely really excited to be back. These girls are some of my best friends, and this environment is one that has shaped me already so much and I know we’ll continue to do so. Again, my time at Man City was incredible. I have nothing but good things to say. I really think that I learned a lot and gained so much from my experience there. Staying would have been another great opportunity for me, I just feel like right now this is the best place. I’m definitely open to anything in the future. But I’m really happy to be home with the Courage and to start training today.
Mewis: Do you feel like that whole season there kind of fulfilled that that idea of going abroad for you?
Mewis: I don’t know. I mean, I don’t know if I had an idea of going abroad. I think that I had a wonderful experience and I definitely think I got to experience the game from another perspective and learn a lot about the way England views the game and the way the girls see it. I think it was really eye-opening and kind of like broadened my horizons a little bit. In that sense, I can see that I have so much more to learn. So I think that coming back here will just continue to like open up new doors for me and show me areas I need to continue to work on. But in the future, hopefully I can play for a really long time, and maybe I would go overseas again. I don’t know.
Question: What’s he biggest difference between training over there with Man City and then coming back to the Courage here we know the work ethic is so high?
Mewis: I mean, the work ethic at Man City was very high. Again, I have nothing but positives. I think that both environments are really special and really great training environments. I think that something that is unique to the Courage is that we really pride ourselves on high-pressure and high-intensity all the time. It’s so much fun to to be in that kind of environment and to be pushed like that every day. But I will say that the training at Man City was incredible. I feel like I got better every day. I feel like the girls that I was playing with world class players I learned so much: I think that the technical ability and their tactical awareness was really high-level and something that I felt like I had to catch up to. But again, both environments are awesome and I’m just honored and and really fortunate to have been able to experience both.
Question: You mentioned kind of some of the changes with with the courage, just from a roster perspective. Do you envision your role with the team changing this year?
Mewis: That’s a good question. I guess I don’t really know. I feel like I want to be a leader. I think we have such strong leadership with this team from from the top down, from the coaching staff to the all the players that we have. I think that I can continue to bring that in my own way on the field. I’m not sure positionally, we’ll have to see how everything goes and what the team needs. Of course, I’ll play anywhere if there’s space for me to play. So I guess we’ll see. But I’m just really excited to get back into the swing of things. And I hope that I can continue to contribute a lot to the club because they have obviously given me so much. I’ve learned so much here. I’ve grown so much here. So my ultimate goal is to just help the team win whatever way I can.
Question: I wanted to know how much of the fact that it’s an Olympic year had to do with your decision to come back and to continue with the coverage up until the Olympics?
Mewis: It wasn’t a deciding factor, I don’t think. I mean, I think if I’ve learned anything, if we’ve all learned anything in the past year, it’s that nothing is certain. So you kind of just have to make decisions with whatever information you have knowing that things could change at any moment. I think that I just tried to put myself, as always, in the best environment that I could to succeed. And I just feel like that led me here. Again, I would have been honored to stay at Man City. It was an incredible experience. I do think that there are some positives with what could happen this summer, to being back here in the states, being closer to everything. We were just joking about playing and in the humidity. So, again, it wasn’t like the deciding factor by any means, there were a lot of a bunch of things that went into it. But I think that there are definitely some good takeaways considering that.