Megan Rapinoe slams scheduling of Women's World Cup final on same day as men's soccer events
LYON, France - Megan Rapinoe considers Sunday to be the final insult.
As the U.S. Women’s National Team heads into what could be a historic fourth win in the final round of the FIFA Women’s World Cup, some are voicing concerns about the broadcast schedule of the match.
Two major men’s soccer event finals will also be occurring on Sunday.Shortly after the U.S. and the Netherlands duke it out for the Women’s World Cup title, Brazil and Peru will compete in the Copa America, South America’s men’s championship.
The last match of the night will be between the U.S. Men’s Team and Mexico for the CONCACAF Gold Cup, the men’s title of North and Central America and the Caribbean.
"It's ridiculous, and disappointing, to be honest," said Rapinoe, the 33-year-old midfielder and co-captain of the USWNT, who is no stranger to using her fame as a platform to speak out on issues and voice her opinions.
"It's terrible," said former American midfielder Aly Wagner, now FOX's lead World Cup match analyst. "It is so disturbing to me that the Women's World Cup does not have its own day to stand on its own and have a final to highlight these tremendous athletes and their work and their accomplishment. They wouldn't dream of doing it to the men. Why would they do it to the women?"
But FIFA argues that having all three final matches on the same day stands to boost attention and viewership for everyone
."The scheduling of the different events has gone through a comprehensive consultancy process, which has involved all key stakeholders and taken into account different aspects of the women's and men's international match calendars," the governing body said in a statement. "It is a rare and exciting occurrence."
The dates for all three tournaments have been known for quite some time. FIFA, CONCACAF and Copa America all announced their respective tournament dates in 2018. The Women’s World Cup full schedule was released on Feb. 9. CONCACAF announced the date for its final in September, and the Copa America tournament dates were announced early in the year, though the kickoff time for the final wasn’t announced until Dec. 18.
CONCACAF President Victor Montagliani told The New York Times that the decision to schedule the Gold Cup final for Sunday was not deliberate and was due to a "clerical error."
Major advertisers sponsoring the event also believe the scheduling poses no threat to viewership.
"The priority for Coca-Cola is the FIFA Women's World Cup and we're going to do everything we can to bring a lot of attention, a lot people in front of TVs, to watch the game, to watch the final," said Ricardo Fort, head of global sponsorships at The Coca-Cola Co., another FIFA partner. "Too bad for the other finals. I'm pretty sure the Women's World Cup final is going to be a big global event again."
Audited financial reports from the U.S. Soccer Federation, the nonprofit entity that governs the men’s and women’s soccer teams as well as their pay, revealed that the USWNT games have brought in more revenue than the U.S. Men’s games since the women won the 2015 World Cup.
For the U.S. women's team, vocal advocates for gender equity, the three finals are just another in a long parade of put-downs that include lower prize money and arrangements they say are inferior to those provided for the men.
"I don't really understand why there's such a resistance against going all-in on women," Rapinoe said. "I think it's pretty clear women in sport have not been treated with the same care and financing and all of that that men's sports has."
The USWNT is already breaking viewership records this World Cup — the semi-final match against France was the most-watched soccer match on English-language TV since the 2018 men’s World Cup final. 6.3 million viewers watched the match on FOX and FOX streaming services as well as 8.2 million viewers on television.
FIFA estimates at least 1 billion viewers around the world will have watched the Women’s World Cup when it ends on Sunday.
Watch the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup on FOX from June 7 through July 7.
This story was reported from Los Angeles. The Associated Press contributed.