On July 7, the U.S. Women’s National Team went up against the Netherlands Women’s National Team for the FIFA Women’s World Cup and USWNT took home the championship cup. During the team’s victory speech in New York, U.S. women’s soccer star and forward, Megan Rapinoe, said, “We got white girls, black girls, and everything in between.”
However, Rapinoe should have thought twice before making that statement. After all, what exactly did she mean by “everything in between” if the U.S. Women’s National Team didn’t feature a single Latina woman on its roster this year?
Rapinoe’s comments recently inspired a Los Angeles Times story about an L.A. girls soccer club trying to make the face of women’s soccer.
Columnist Bill Plaschke spoke to young soccer players from the Downtown Los Angeles Soccer Club, whose team is mostly made up of Latina athletes “facing economic and cultural battles that have long kept them on the soccer sidelines.” The Downtown Los Angeles Soccer Club is made up of 175 girls trying to change the face of women’s soccer that has historically been dominated by white women.
This critique of the U.S. Women’s National Football Team is not new. When they also held the title for world champions in 2017, NPR’s Latino USA published an article “Why Is Women’s Soccer so White?”
Audio producer and journalist Michael Simon Johnson writes, “The United States women’s national soccer team is far from a beacon of diversity, especially when compared to their male counterparts. With few women of color––and no Latinas––the team is extremely white, in spite of soccer’s entrenched place in Latin American culture.”
However, the issue isn’t that young girls of color aren’t interested in playing the sport.
But rather, as NPR notes, “youth soccer’s play-to-play system favors not necessarily the most talented children, but the children of parents who can afford elite clubs’ steep fees.” Club soccer fees run from $2,000 to $5,000 annually, per the Los Angeles Times.
That’s where Downtown Los Angeles Soccer Club comes in. Their club president Mick Muhlfriedel helps run the all-volunteer operation out of a middle school field in Pico-Union. According to Mulhfriedel, “some of the girls contribute $25 a month. Most pay nothing.”
Since the 1991 World Cup, there have been 12 women of color on the U.S. World Cup or Olympic teams.
“Add in the lack of diverse role models and access, transportation issues and the cost, the number of obstacles facing girls of color in the game of soccer becomes poignantly evident. Although progress has been slow, there has been progress. It would be remiss to not acknowledge some of the black players who are trailblazing on the field,” writes Stephanie Taylor of Girls Soccer Network.
She writes that race was something most people on the teams she played didn’t want to discuss or even acknowledge.
“Over most of my 20-year career, I hadn’t realized how uncomfortable some teammates were around certain coaches or officials. Most players wanted to represent the US, to be at the Olympics or the World Cup, and they’re proud to be on the team. So they kept quiet. But those conversations with teammates who felt things were off, means race is an issue we need to discuss a whole lot more,” Solo writes. “The numbers are very clear. We need more men and women of color to represent US national teams. So few players of color representing the USWNT means there are great athletes across the country we are ignoring.”
The Los Angeles Times also cites that according to NCAA reports from 2017-2018, only 8% of female soccer players were Latino women. This is why it’s so important to not only advocate for young Latina athletes but also help mobilize the conversations further surrounding not only gender parity’s in professional sports but also race.
In the last two years, the Downtown Los Angeles Soccer Club has won three of their eight major tournaments and made it to the finals three other times. This fall, the Los Angeles Times writes that they’ll compete in the prestigious Premier division of the Coast Soccer League and compete in the California Regional League.
The young Latina soccer players from the Down Los Angeles Soccer Club seem to be resilient soccer players passionate and determined.
More importantly, they seem resolute in their efforts to change the face of future World Cup and soccer matches that take place on a national stage.
Here’s to hoping we see some of these young talented players giving that victory speech or holding the cup in the future.
For the first time since 2007, Brazil has won the ultimate South American soccer tournament, Copa America. Brazil played against Peru in their home Maracaña stadium on Sunday, July 7 with a solid 3-1 victory. That small fact means something even bigger for Brazil. The country’s team has won the title every single time it has hosted the tournament. While some folks think that the tournament is rigged in Brazil’s favor, there were quite a few factors that were not in the winning team’s favor.
Neymar, arguably Brazil’s best player, had to sit out of the game due to an ankle injury.
Credit: naymarjr / Instagram
Neymar and his son sat very close to President Jair Bolsonaro, albeit on the sidelines. Fans have remarked on how upset Neymar looks to be benched. He had ruptured a ligament in his ankle just days before the game in a friendly match against Qatar last week.
Forward Gabriel Jesus, who scored for Brazil, was sent to the bench after a foul.
Credit: dejesusoficial / Instagram
With 20 minutes left in the game, Gabriel Jesus was sent to the bench for his second yellow card. That means that Brazil had ten players to Peru’s eleven, and still beat them.
“Brazil deserved the victory,” Peru coach Ricardo Gareca said.
Credit: lucasfigfoto / cbf_futebol / Instagram
“We played better than we did in the previous match. We have improved as a team,” an encouraged Gareca told reporters. “We still have to improve more, but we are on the right track.”
Neymar’s replacement, Everton, was named player of the final.
Credit: lucasfigfoto / cbf_futebol / Instagram
“I gave everything I had today,” said Everton. Nobody, not even coach Tite, could have imagined that Everton would even be playing in the final, let alone carry the team. You’ll see his head in the bottom left corner of the image above.
Argentina’s Lionel Messi publicly called the Copa América referees “corrupt.”
Credit: leomessi / Instagram
After a bizarre red card against Messi during the third-place playoff against Chile Saturday, he told reporters, “I feel a lot of anger because I think I did not deserve that red card because I think we were playing a very good game. We were ahead, but, as I said recently, unfortunately, there is a lot of corruption, the referees. We leave with the feeling that they did not allow us to be in the final, that we were ready for better.”
Defensive midfielder, Carlos Henrique Casemiro, had a classy response to Messi’s comments.
Credit: casemiro / Instagram
This Twitter user is throwing shade back at Messi for his comments. “Those with a mouth can say what they want. It’s not up to me to speak, it’s a delicate subject,” the soccer player told reporters. “It’s not for me to say if the refereeing was good. We need to congratulate Peru for the good Copa America they had.”
While Brazil is celebrating a victory, they’re also commemorating a historic loss against Germany.
Credit: @anapgeller / Twitter
Known on The Internet as #7x1Day, on July 8th, 2014, Brazil lost the FIFA World Cup to Germany in a disgraceful 7-1 loss. Germany scored four goals within the first six minutes of the game, and it got worse from there. At the last minute, Brazil scored a consolation goal but ultimately lost big. That game marked the end of a 62-match home unbeaten streak going back to the 1975 Copa América when they lost to Peru.
Of course, the Internet is doing its thing.
Credit: @TrollFootball / Twitter
Obviously, @TrollFootball is trolling us all with this screen grab from that infamous Germany-Brazil game. Latinos definitely came out to call BS on this claim. At the time, Germany’s jerseys looked pretty similar to Peru’s and have enjoyed a redesign.
Even Jesus is wearing a Brazil jersey now.
Credit: @BleacherReport / Twitter
And also, apparently, holding a gleaming trophy that’s shining brighter than Jesus himself! They say we create a God of our own understanding. This is how Rio’s God is looking–freshly outfitted and winning.
Felicidades a Brasil!!! 🇧🇷
Credit: @BiaFuracaoReal / Twitter
Brazil’s streets were flooded with fans after the victory, and we don’t think they’ve stopped partying since Sunday. Enjoy it!