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Time for the Timbers, Sounders to Stand up for Women’s Soccer

Saturday, December 19, 2015


Abby Wambach

On the heels of the all-time greatest soccer player Abby Wambach’s retirement is nothing less than a legacy of admiration and inspiration for future generations of soccer players and fans to come. But rest assured, she will not be spending the rest of her days laid up on a beach (though I hope at least a few). She has made it clear that her next crusade begins: equality for women in soccer. Her fight, quite frankly, began long ago. Wambach is already waged a legal battle against FIFA for forcing women to play on turf during the 2015 World Cup; something her male counterparts have never been subject to (the lawsuit was eventually dropped). 

These women: The World Champions, had to protest their international friendly game against Trinidad & Tobago because the turf was in such a poor state It posed a risk of injury. Players could literally pick up part of the filed as if it were carpet that had yet to be laid down in a house under renovation. In case you missed it, Julie Foudy posted a picture here of why the pitch was unplayable.  

Erstwhile, the Pacific Northwest’s wildly successful and beloved Major League Soccer teams (including, ahem, the Champion Portland Timbers) have remained more or less silent on the issue of women’s equality in the sport of soccer. Do these men bear a special responsibility to speak up on behalf of their female counterparts? Not necessarily; however, if you consider the fact that the female professional teams in Seattle and Portland were likewise the most popular teams in their leagues then I cannot seem to understand why they wouldn’t want to. The manifestation of fandom in these cities feeds off one another: the success of the MLS teams certainly contributed to the crowds at the Reign FC and Thorns pitches, but so did their own FIFA World Cup Championship. And the Sounders and Timbers can’t deny that the excitement from that didn’t help fuel their own crowds. 

Given the undeniable support for the sport of soccer in the PNW (that I’ve even heard MLS staff gush about first hand, so be proud, fans!), there is no reason there shouldn’t be some sort of push for equality on the public level. Of course sports organizations and management are trepidations in getting involved in political issues that aren’t always broadly accepted (*cough* Pentagon paying nearly $7 million to pro sports teams for military support tributes*), but Seattle and Portland don’t exactly strike me as cities that would lose any fan base for their MLS teams taking on such a noble task. And also, now that women are allowed in battle in the armed forces, shouldn’t they also be allowed to play soccer on real grass? Just saying. 

As Robbie Rogers, member of the LA Galaxy and former player for the U.S. Men’s National Team so eloquently put during the 2015 World Cup (before the women took the title): “This must be the last Women’s World Cup played on turf, period. And men, we have a responsibility to demand it. Any less is complicity, and complicity is culpability.” What more do these women have to prove? They’ve already surpassed the men in all-time viewership for a match, proven their marketability, shown their fans are way more emotionally invested in them and their futures (not that it’s a competition). But above all, more than perhaps any other athletes on this earth could prove, they did it for the game of soccer and not for the money or the fame. So let’s put that on the list of “To Do’s” next season, shall we guys? Thank you. 

GoLocalPDX partner Oregon Sports News: Since 2011, Oregon Sports News has provided entertaining, hard-hitting local sports news & commentary every weekday. To read more from this author, check out Oregon Sports News by clicking here.


Related Slideshow: 10 Vines Celebrating the Portland Timbers Season

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The Portland Timbers took a 1-0 lead in the MLS Cup final on this error by the Columbus Crew goaltender Steve Clark and a goal by Diego Valeri The goal took 28 seconds to score and is the fastest in MLS Cup history.

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Timbers go up 2-0 on what proves to be the MLS Cup winner.

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The Portland Timbers win the MLS Cup. The first championship in team history.

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Let the celebration begin.

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Drinking from the cup.

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Timbers advance to MLS Cup Finals.

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Lucas Melano helps seal a western conference championship over FC Dallas. The Timbers advance to the MLS Cup Final.

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Fanendo Adi gets Portland on the board in the MLS Cup Playoffs.

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Timber Joey has had a lot to celebrate this season.

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Fans pour in to Providence Park


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