For those of you who follow me or know me, you know that the first short film I wrote and produced, "An Equal Playing Field" was about Women's Soccer + Gender Inequality around the Women's World Cup last June. Participant Media's online site TakePart.com (a non-sports studio) fully believed that this content was IMPORTANT and stood behind me and my production partners in telling this story of how Women's Soccer faces gender inequality issues when no other network would take a shot at it.
The short film, that is meant to be one episode in a 6-part global docu-series, took about a year of research, pre-production work and dozens of hours of interviews to understand not only the history of why Women's Soccer has struggled so much in the U.S. to have year-long sustainability in their programs and leagues, but to also understand what happens around the rest of the world. In reality, the U.S. Women's National Team does have it better comparatively speaking to most of the other Women's Football (Soccer) programs around the world. That's kind of pathetic seeing that some of the statistics say they get paid 4 times less than than the men's team. Some Football Associations give zero to their Women's Soccer programs. ZERO.
At least in the U.S., there is a societal belief that women and girls should play soccer and that it's their right to do so where many, many other countries around the world don't believe. There hasn't been much done about it. So who is to blame?
The answer: EVERYONE IN THE FAMILY
Here's the breakdown:
FIFA/GOVERNING BODIES: Is the tone set by these global over-seers and governing bodies? Yes, technically speaking, but who holds them accountable? That's an honest question. There doesn't seem to be an official checks & balances system in place. If there are rules that Football Associations are to give a certain percentage of their allotted monies to Women's Soccer development, no one seems to care or get punished when this doesn't happen.
MEDIA: There is an obvious lack of coverage by not only American media but global media on Women's Soccer (and most Women's Sports) and no one is stepping up to make Women's Sports a regular part of the sports news or programming breakdown to create a cultural shift. Where are the executives at the top demanding to put more programming in? And there doesn't seem to be repercussions for that either from shareholders even though the big sports networks are losing viewers and money in the millions. It's obviously not about the ratings as the Women's World Cup was THE most watched soccer match of all time? Why didn't the ESPN's and Fox Sports' of the world step up to capitalize on that? Not about the RIGHT thing to do, it's obviously the smart business move to parade the women's team out there.
SPONSORS: This aspect seems to be the largest influencer (or non-influencer) of all. Every which way we turned on producing "An Equal Playing Field" and asked the question of how the culture of Women's Soccer would change, the answer was 100% about whatever the sponsors say. It's not only the sponsors of FIFA & the World Cup but also the sponsors of US Soccer, Women's Team and the Men's Team. If the large, deep-pocketed corporate sponsors don't seem to care or even activate around these large global events then the governing bodies and the media also don't care.
Capitalism at it's worst that might only see a change in direction if some sort of version of a Modern Family steps up to disrupt the bottom lines or create such a PR nightmare that the discriminatory culture at the top has no option but to change.