Last week, former Socceroo Robbie Slater blasted the Matildas’ Women’s World Cup campaign, calling it “calamitous”.
Slater essentially argued the Matildas’ world cup campaign ended prematurely thanks to the “selfish interest of people trying to get on the back of the Matildas and taking the focus away from the football.”
He said: “We have to ask ourselves as a nation, ‘did we deserve to win this World Cup’ given what going on in the game and the turmoil and the selfish interests?”
The “selfish interests”, according to Slater, are people and organisations like Heather Reid (Australian football administrator and an advocate for gender equity), Professional Footballers Australia and Football Federation Australia and “everyone else who has had their little stab at political correctness and equality and wages”.
Slater’s opinion has drawn ire from many diversity and inclusion experts, including Teresa Russell.
Speaking to B&T, Russell said that the FIFA Women’s World Cup is exactly the place to be bringing up the issue of pay equality in sports, while also labelling Slater as “a gold-medal-winning political correctness machine for men being paid more than women in football.”
“Ask any PR student or professional. The World Cup is a great setting to highlight this issue. Reporters weren’t running on the field and stopping the game to ask the players about pay equality. They were doing it in post-match press conferences. It’s all pretty standard,” Russell said.
Russell also slammed Slater for suggesting women can only focus on one issue at a time.
“Women’s brains are able to focus on more than one thing at a time, in this case, football and pay equality,” adding, “Although on the field and at training, I’m sure they were all just focusing on football. They can do that too!”
Russell offered a solution to the “well-paid men in the media” who believed that people jumping on the bandwagon of pay equality ruined the Matildas’ chance of standing on the podium holding the World Cup.
“They could just close the f*cking pay gap. It’s not like they can’t afford it!” Russell said.
Proving that women can focus both on the game and advocating for gender equity, the USA football team has made it to the semifinals, while also suing US Soccer for alleged institutionalised gender discrimination, with the gap in compensation between men and women a central part of their argument.
The USA women’s football team have earned just 1/6 of what the men earn in bonuses for getting to the semifinals in the World Cup.
And, just last week, outspoken USA co-captain Megan Rapinoe who was the first white professional athlete to kneel for the national anthem in protest of social injustice in the United States said she would not visit the White House if the team wins the tournament.
Trump took to Twitter to address Rapinoe, writing: “Women’s soccer player, Megan Rapinoe, just stated that she is “not going to the F…ing White House if we win.”
“I am a big fan of the American Team, and Women’s Soccer, but Megan should WIN first before she TALKS!”
He continued: “Finish the job! We haven’t yet……..invited Megan or the team, but I am now inviting the TEAM, win or lose. Megan should never disrespect our Country, the White House, or our Flag, especially since so much has been done for her & the team. Be proud of the Flag that you wear. The USA is doing GREAT!”
Russell told B&T Rapinoe is real-life proof women can focus on a number of things at the same time without it influencing their sports’ performance.
She said: “It seems that captain, Megan Rapinoe, can focus on quite a number of things at the same time without it affecting the team’s performance.
Russell concluded: “Are the Matildas any less capable at multi-tasking and keeping focus? I think not.”