FIFA President Sepp Blatter claims he’s been a ‘godfather’ for women’s soccer, but mounting evidence says that may not be the case.
The latest exhibit? Blatter apparently doesn’t even recognize some of the the most famous female faces in the game, including Team USA’s Alex Morgan.
“At the FIFA World Player of the Year event [in 2012], FIFA executives and FIFA president Sepp Blatter didn’t know who I was,” Morgan told Time magazine in an interview published on Thursday. “And I was being honored as top three in the world. That was pretty shocking.”
It’s more than shocking — it’s unacceptable. It’d be like Blatter not recognizing Cristiano Ronaldo, who was a finalist in 2012 for the men’s FIFA player of the year award, better known as the Ballon d’Or.
Morgan, 25, is arguably one of the best American female soccer players of all time. By 2012, just three years after making her U.S. debut in 2009, Morgan had racked up 41 goals — more than any other American female player did in her first three years, according to U.S. Soccer’s official Web site. That year Morgan was also named U.S. Soccer female athlete of the year, which obviously also must not have resonated with Blatter.
Morgan says Blatter’s failure to recognize her is just one example of the kind of sexism and misogyny that exists within FIFA.
“I have experienced sexism multiple times, and I’m sure I will a lot more,” she said. “I feel like I’m fighting for female athletes.”
Morgan is not alone in her opinions. Last autumn, an international group of top female players filed a lawsuit in the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal alleging gender discrimination on the parts of FIFA and the Canadian Soccer Association for deciding to play the Women’s World Cup on turf instead of real grass.
With time dwindling until the June 6 kickoff, however, the group, led by U.S. star Abby Wambach, later proposed a compromise and came up with a no-cost solution to install grass on just some of the fields.
FIFA, however, rejected it and the women eventually withdrew the suit in January.
“To me, it wasn’t about that there was grass or no grass, it was about FIFA not wanting to do anything that anybody else wanted,” Wambach told ESPN earlier this month about why FIFA refused to compromise.
Like Morgan, she too has agreed to keep fighting for equal rights.