Football is class war by another means. Football on the national and international stage is the most political of all sports. The drama that took place
on the pitch in Melbourne, Australia was a defining moment for women’s football. This was a defining moment not only in regard to the United States and its endless attitude of entitlement, but also in regard to the class and racial behavior that has dominated women’s soccer for decades in the United States and abroad. No doubt there will be bourgeois theories presented by the American media embedded as they are as part of the capitalist and imperialist hierarchy as a propaganda tool for the powers that be, that it was simply a ‘few millimeters’ that cost the American women soccer players their opportunity to become the first team in history to have won three successive World Cups.
If one studies the history of the American Women’s soccer team, one will need to understand that Anglo-American women have been the dominant racial force on the U.S. National Team since its inception with the majority of them coming from middle class and upper-middle class families. Rarely, if at all, do the USWNT talent scouts use creative avenues to find working class and national minority soccer players who are not on professional league teams. In 2016, the American sports reporter, Les Carpenter wrote how a chairman of the US Soccer’s diversity task force was seemingly perplexed about this issue regarding actual diversity in American soccer:
He sees well-to-do families spending thousands of dollars a year on soccer clubs that propel their children to the sport’s highest levels, while thousands of gifted athletes in mostly African American and Latino neighborhoods get left behind. He worries about this inequity. Soccer is the world’s great democratic game, whose best stars have come from the world’s slums, ghettos and favelas. And yet in the US the path to the top is often determined by how many zeroes a parent can write in their checkbook.
The naivety about or, perhaps, the unwillingness to take a hard look at the economic, class, and racial issues in women’s soccer in the United States as well as the make-up of the United States Women National Team is tragic. I am also aware that there is not enough factual information available on class and racial issues on the USWNT. Therefore, this essay is limited in its scope and analysis. The lack of information available on this subject is also a sign of prevalent racism and classism. As even a former African American woman soccer player for the national team (We should note that she came from a middle-class family who lived in the suburbs of America.) explained to the American sport writer:
There are a lot of reasons for this disparity, but mostly everything comes down to perception and economics. “It continues to be seen as a white, suburban sport” says Briana Scurry, who won the Women’s World Cup in 1999 with the US, and was arguably the country’s most prominent black female player.
I will argue that the term “perception” is a liberal word used when not wanting to be exact, but what is honest is that there are no working class African American, Mexican American, or Native American women or other national minorities that should be a part of the United States Women’s National Team at the Women’s World Cup. Until this class and racial change takes place, the USWNT will always be a cast of pre-dominantly Anglo-Americans who are narcissistic and self-absorbed and whose shallowness will be a detriment to the creative growth of American women’s soccer in general.
The hypocrisy of certain characters on the United States Women’s World Cup team revealed their political contradictions. It was reported that one of the leaders of the team, Megan Repione, explained to a reporter why she and others did not sing the American National Anthem. This is their right. However, their political neo-liberal outcries for political justice do not match their political actions:
US stars have refused to sing the national anthem as a form of protest against racial injustice and police violence. In 2016, some players kneeled, including USWNT forward Megan Rapinoe who has been vocal about her reasons not to sing The Star-Spangled Banner.
"I can understand if you think that I'm disrespecting the flag by kneeling, but it is because of my utmost respect for the flag and the promise it represents that I have chosen to demonstrate in this way," Rapinoe explained.
"When I take a knee, I am facing the flag with my full body, staring straight into the heart of our country's ultimate symbol of freedom — because I believe it is my responsibility, just as it is yours, to ensure that freedom is afforded to everyone in this country."
Miss Rapinoe should engage in some self-criticism about her political sectarianism
that she encouraged on the U.S. Women squad. Certainly, she had other teammates who enabled her with their own middle-class rationales for not facing the raw facts of their immature behavior regarding their so-called progressive political agenda. None of these women come close to the greatness of the African American athletes who protested racism at the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games. They were banned from the U.S. Track and Field team and the Olympic Village. The majority of American women at the World Cup in 2023 did not sing the American national anthem, but they also did not make a serious statement of any kind as to their so-called silent protest.
But the complexity of the U.S. Women World Cup squad was also a source for contentious commentary by the right-wing forces of the United States media as well. They had their own hypocritical statements to make about the leadership of the women’s team without looking at their own sordid past. One of those reporters who wanted to smear the team wrote:
Whitlock said: 'Rapinoe is the ultimate pimp. She is the Andrew Tate of LGBTQ feminism. She sees herself as a force for good, a force for freedom and proper femininity. 'She believes she is a threat to the establishment. She is popular, she is wealthy beyond her imagination, sexually liberated and adored by her followers. 'She is a fraud. She hates America because she hates herself. She is toxic. Her attitude pervades the national team. At 38, she is only on the roster to further burnish her brand.'
What one can observe dispassionately is that the American sports columnist, Jason Whitlock is as much of a fraud as the very American soccer player he criticized. He represents the American sport system, the very system that believes in winning in sports on an international level at all costs, regardless of the political consequences. He did not raise his own voice about the inequalities in soccer history in general or in women’s soccer in the United States, in particular, if not all of North America. The sport writer’s infantile remarks do not get to “The Heart of the Matter” as Graham Green entitled a novel in which he wrote this sentence “"If one knew, he wondered, the facts, would one have to feel pity even for the planets? If one reached what they called the heart of the matter?" One should distinguish between a fraudulent perception of the USWNT and a factual one. The team should be analyzed by its class, racial makeup, and technical abilities on the pitch. Should we feel a certain pity for the American Women World Cup squad in their loss to Sweden which kept them from moving forward and achieving so-called immortality in sports? The history of the USWNT speaks for itself in dry hard facts. They did not lose simply in a penalty shoot-out by a few millimeters when the ball crossed the goal line. They lost for reasons that are a part of the history of America, and football, like no other sport, mirrors the national character of a people.
One of the happiest moments in my life occurred today, when Sweden defeated the United States Women Soccer team, as it brought an end to Anglo-American superiority in football on the world's stage. In the United States, the historical fact is that the US women's soccer team was created from class and racial prejudices without any profound regard for working class women, whether they be national minorities or white working class footballers. The death knell of Anglo-American superiority in American women's soccer has ushered in a new era.