On Thursday the United States Women’s National Team’s Victory Tour heads to San Antonio with three stars and a new dedication to bringing equal footing to the women’s international game. A week ago, the match in San Antonio looked to be a rematch versus a Trinidad & Tobago side they were expected to dismantle at Aloha stadium. But that match never happened: according to a statement released by the team, Hawaii’s first ever international soccer competition was called off due to field conditions. The world champion team’s desire is simple and understandable: they expect to be treated as equals to their male counterparts.
Off the pitch, the American soccer fan base has supported the women’s game in unprecedented numbers, and the passion continues to grow. We asked Austin-based Dan Wiersema, American Outlaws Director of Communications, to shed some light on the increased support. “One of the most important areas of the American Outlaws growth is expansion to support the USWNT,” he told us. “In the run-up to the Women’s World Cup in 2015 our local chapters showed interest in supporting the team. So, we wanted to take our passion to our closest neighbor and cheer them to victory.”
American soccer fans, armed with support from AO, traveled to Canada in great numbers and created a tremendous atmosphere.
“We have the best fans in the world, and we wouldn’t have won the World Cup without their support. To us, that’s just a fact. They made the trek to Canada. They made us feel like we were playing at home in every match. And most of all, they made us feel like, by winning the World Cup, we were a part of something much bigger than ourselves.
Wiersema added that since the World Cup ended, “The cool thing is support has continued. Communities have had games that otherwise didn’t. Chapters always enjoy local matches and it strengthens the American soccer fan base. San Antonio and Central Texas have great chapters and they will undoubtedly be the loudest part of the stadium [on Thursday night].”
Fortunately for fans in Texas, there have been quite a few opportunities to support both the women’s and men’s teams. At the time of publishing this piece the game is still on, but it is unlikely to happen without further commentary on the disparity between the men’s and women’s playing conditions and compensation. Earlier this year, the USMNT played a friendly against Mexico in the same Alamodome. For that competition, the artificial turf field was overlaid with natural grass. While the sod over turf idea was a disaster for the match, there was at least the intention of improving the playing surface. No such concession will be attempted for the USWNT as they will play on the same artificial turf field that players have been critical of in the past.
The fact that eight out of ten Victory Tour matches were scheduled on the artificial stuff tells us that USSF needs to listen to the world champions and bring them the equal footing they deserve. Regardless of how much FIFA puts its money where its mouth is when it comes to improving the women’s game, the United States should be the example and lead the way for player safety and gender equality.
If you happen to be in San Antonio and would like to see the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015 Winner’s Trophy, you’ll have three opportunities to take a photo with the award: Tuesday at Market Square from 4-7 p.m. CT, during the team’s training session on Wednesday, and on game day from 5-8 p.m. at the Fan HQ located in the North Plaza.
Today, USSF announced ticket details for the upcoming 2016 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship, to be held in the Dallas and Houston areas Feb 10-21. Tickets go on sale Friday, Dec. 11 at 10 a.m. CT. Each ticket will be good for the three-date series and includes all games played at a single venue. They might be cold, but at least those games will take place on natural grass fields.