Canadian women wanted equality: Now, in dealing with criticism, they should get it By Steven Sandor Posted on July 5, 2011 4 0 436 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Coach Carolina Morace (right) and staff. PHOTO: CANADA SOCCER It may be the most anticlimactic loss in the history of the Canadian women’s soccer program. After hitting the woodwork twice, Nigeria got the goal it deserved to beat Canada 1-0 in both teams’ swan songs at the Women’s World Cup. Both Nigeria, the African champion, and Canada, the CONCACAF champion, came into the game knowing it was no more than a glorified friendly. The Nigerians could at least take some pride away from this match. Perpetua Nkwocha got the goal in the 84th minute, after a power failure took almost 14 minutes to be resolved at the Rudolf-Harbig Stadiumm in Dresden, Germany. The power failure was a fitting send-off to a Canadian team that scored just once, and looked like its No. 6 world ranking was a cruel joke. Take this as a given; the Canadian Soccer Association’s bean counters will look at the money that was spent on sending the team to camp in Italy ahead of the WWC. And the question asked will be “was it worth it?” After getting the resources she needed to have the team prepare for months in Rome, and play a series of friendlies behind closed doors (as in — games that generate no revenue or PR value for the CSA), what the soccer-paying public got what was a string of excuses. About Canada not being professional enough. About our country not providing the professionalism our women need to succeed. Yes, it was an indictment of WPS — which many of the American players call home. You know, the American team that breezed into the quarter-finals? Cough. A handful of the key Canadian players, including star Christine Sinclair, are WPS products. But, Sinclair has admitted that she has turned down offers to play in Europe, stating that she wants to remain closer to home. She has shown an unshakeable loyalty to WPS. “We have seen so many teams fold over the two years it’s [WPS] has been around,” Sinclair said when she was named Canada’s female player of the year last December. “At the same time, more teams are coming in. This league is so important for soccer in North America. It would be a shame if it didn’t succeed. Here in North America, we need to show respect to the women’s league and respect to women’s sports.” The message has been clear; Canada’s best player has had the chance to compete in those leagues that Morace covets, but has chosen to stay close to home. That’s fair. Women’s professional sports aren’t lucrative, so decisions about where to live are as important as how much you will make. But Canada doesn’t have the kind of infrastructure to support a viable women’s league. Heck, you can argue that, judging by the financial problems that plague WPS, the U.S. can’t support a women’s pro league. And this Canadian team was more than competitive in the Gold Cup and the various tournaments it played in leading up to the World Cup. And the CSA knows that. Guaranteed, next time Morace gives the Association an expensive shopping list, she’ll be met — understandably — with a lot of resistance. It’s like asking dad to borrow the Ferrari after you totalled the Porsche the last time out. Not gonna happen. Women’s sport, as a rule, is handled with kid gloves by the Canadian media. We preach equality between the genders, but it doesn’t hold true in the sports section. Columnists call female athletes by their first names, as if they were their kid sisters (how many of you refer to Sinclair as “Christine?” Gotcha.) And, when women fail, it’s OK. Hard questions aren’t asked. When the men crash, we are all over them. Remember how we all felt bad for Mellisa Hollingsworth, the Canadian skeleton star who was expected to medal at the 2010 Vancouver Games? She was in tears after finishing fifth. She was hard on herself. And there was collective sympathy for her. Had Hollingsworth been a man, the media would have been far more cruel. But that’s the inequality that exists between men’s and women’s sport. Women are held to different standards. And they shouldn’t. The Canadian team trained in Italy. It won tournament after tournament. And it failed on the big stage. Morace and co. don’t deserve excuses. They don’t deserve sympathy. Morace fought hard to get the women’s program on the same footing on the men. Her team threatened to strike in support of her. Now, in failure, they deserve the same hard criticisms that are normally reserved for men’s soccer. The women wanted equality — and we support that fully. So, it’s time for this team to come home and answer the tough questions.