The A&A Show - BBC Sport Stockholm reporter Anita Asante gets some exclusive interviews with the standouts from Sunday’s win against AIK
The following blog post about sexual harrassment in women’s football was published by Adelaide United and Norway Women’s National Team player Lisa-Marie Woods on January 9, 2014. Visit her blog at woods.blogg.no.
Speaking up on behalf of others is something you see very seldom in women’s football, despite its need for it at times. I understand that players have to take care of themselves and some choose to make sure that their professional paths are not sacrificed through fighting other peoples/player’s battles.
In saying that people that know me, know that I’m not one to be concerned about speaking up. Perhaps I should worry more about consequences but it is my nature to do the right thing more than it is to worry about how doing so will affect me as a player. I will always speak up for my teammates and friends. Its called loyalty beyond the game!
So what do I feel when I hear a fellow female footballer going through an unfair situation? And no, I am not talking about the low pay for long hours, the negative press or any of the other disadvantages that are thrown our way that we surpass for our passion of the game. All of that, although hard at times, is part of the game. There is however one thing that I will never say is ok: sexual harassment. In hearing the story of one of my good friends and a former long time teammate, I feel outraged.
I must admit that I have heard rumors about sexual harassment of former teammates happening, but with no clear source or evidence, it was not for me to speak up. This time, I feel that it is. I will not mention names in this blog, in due time, with clear evidence it is likely to come out, but for now, I would rather focus on the story, one that I believe needs to be addressed in women’s soccer as players need to be protected.
Before I tell the story, I would like to make it clear that my sources are what I have seen personally, and what I have heard directly from the player involved, a good friend, and a trustworthy one. One that is well known in Norway. The evidence that I have seen with my own eyes, backs up the story of which I am about to tell.
So on to the story:
Ibrahimovic statements on women’s football
- are they as bad as they seem or were they corrupted by media?
Sweden and PSG forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic has caused quite the controversy the last few days, both in Sweden and in other countries, after being quoted as saying “I got a question over the summer who is the best, myself or Lotta Schelin. You’re joking with me, right?“ and that “When I go to Europe they compare me with Messi and Ronaldo. When I come home they compare me with a women’s player. Should I have to be ashamed of being a Swedish football player?”.
The statements have rightly been criticized, and I was myself bothered by his words. However, after taking Ibrahimovic’s own advice today and reading the interview as a whole, and not just reprinted extracts, I believe that the situation has been corrupted. Ibrahimovic does not in fact seem to intend to insult Lotta Schelin, the Swedish women’s national team or women’s football as a whole, and if you will bare with me I am going to explain why.
In the interview, Ibrahimovic talks about the unfairness that he feels that recently retired men’s national team player Anders Svensson has suffered the last couple of months. At the Swedish Football Awards this year, Svensson was given a car by the Swedish Football Federation for being the most capped male player of all time. Many reacted badly to this as Therese Sjögran, the woman with the most caps, was not given anything. What Ibrahimovic really feels that she deserves is unknown (although he did make a bad joke and say that he can give her a bike, referring to another part of the recent debate about the fact that the women’s national team does not bring in any money, but rather spends what the men’s national team makes), but in the recent interview in Expressen he only spoke about women’s football because he felt that Svensson’s achievement has been diminished as all of the talk has been about how unfair the situation was. He says “a black shadow has been cast on all of what he has done because of a car!”.
Ibrahimovic continues to say that “With all respect for what the women do, they have done it fantastically well, but you cannot compare men’s football with women’s football. Quit it, it’s not even funny.” The journalist adds that the women footballers often say themselves that one should not compare, and Ibrahimovic quickly says “Yes, but who is it that is comparing? Is it the women or the media? In my case it is the media (…) I got a question over the summer who is the best, myself or Lotta Schelin. You’re joking with me, right?”
At first glance, Ibrahimovic may seem to be insulting Schelin, but if one looks at the conversation as a whole, it is quite obvious that he is talking about the media. It is a joke that Swedish media is constantly trying to compare him with Lotta Schelin, when women’s and men’s football should not be compared. It is not a joke because Schelin is not every bit as good within her section of the sport as he is.
Today, Ibrahimovic has defended his own statements, saying exactly that – his criticism was directed towards the media, and not towards women’s football. He also says that “The bike was a joke, a bad one, between myself and the journalist, and I assumed that he understood that it was a joke. In print it was not quite as funny. It was not my intent to step on anyone’s toes.” and “Women’s football has my full respect and they have delivered fantastic results. I have not in any way badmouthed the women’s national team. If anyone is saying anything else, please read the interview in full.”
As I said above, I took his advice and read the interview, and I can now understand why he said most of what he did. Some of his statements were still inappropriate and badly thought through, and some of it is still insulting, but the core appears to be that he wants the media to stop comparing the women with the men, which is what both the women’s players, myself and most women’s football fans want, is it not? One can wonder why he is so upset about “cargate” as it has been called for seemingly the wrong reasons - he should be as upset as everyone else that Sjögran was not acknowledged - but apart from that aspect, were his statements as insulting as they first appeared, or does he have a badly expressed point? What do you think?
Submit your questions to… Lotta Schelin!
Lotta Schelin, the Olympique Lyonnais and Sweden national team forward, has agreed to answer your questions. Submit any question you would like now, and Lotta Schelin will soon answer a selection of them. The answers will be published on my blog, as well as in Swedish on damfotboll.com.
Submit your questions by using the hashtag #AskLotta on Twitter. You can also ask your question by submitting them in my Ask Box (questions from non-members are allowed). Remember to clearly state your name and country (e.g. Emma, France) and your question may be selected as one of the few that Schelin will answer.
Marta and Boquete talk Tyresö
It has been nine years since Umeå IK won Sweden’s last European title, but UEFA Women’s Champions League debutants Tyresö FF are ready to put that right.
Investment in big names like Brazil forward Marta – key to Umeå’s 2004 triumph – and Spain striker Verónica Boquete landed them a maiden league championship last year and now they are set for the toughest of round of 32 ties against Paris Saint-Germain FC, whom they welcome for Wednesday’s first leg. Marta and Boquete, fresh from signing new six-month deals this week, believe winning the Damallsvenskan proves they can go far in Europe.
UEFA.com: Are Tyresö good enough to win the trophy?
Marta: We have a team with the quality. I’m not bringing down the French league, but the Swedish league is better. We play matches here which are quite aggressive in a general sense. And that, without doubt, will help us reach a higher level in the Champions League.
Verónica Boquete: We want a good Champions League campaign. The best teams in Europe play in the Champions League, and Tyresö have just made their way there. Two or three years ago this team was still unknown, so it is difficult to compete with clubs with a long history and Champions League experience, but we have the players and the will to win. We have the desire to achieve big things. We know that Sweden’s domestic league is very competitive, and we won it.
Our objective will be to reach the final in May. Many people say they don’t believe in it – that it’s our first season in the Champions League and to want to make it to the final is very optimistic – but that is our goal. Maybe we won’t make it, but we will undoubtedly give everything we can and we have already been gaining respect in Europe without having really competed yet. People know Tyresö can play good football and that will also be important.
UEFA.com: What were the team’s main strengths last year?
Boquete: Our playing style. Here in Sweden they are used to a more physical style of football with long balls, a more intense way of playing. Tyresö had a squad of players who prefer a different type of football, who like to pass the ball around more. We like to have possession, we just felt good having the ball. That made the difference, the difference in our style of play, and to achieve that result – to manage to win like that – makes the players confident about winning in this style.
UEFA.com: What did coach Tony Gustavsson’s appointment bring?
Marta: For a team to compete in the Damallsvenskan, which is one of the best leagues at the moment, it takes work; and at the head of that work you need a boss. Tony fills that role very well. We, the players, feel very secure about what we can do, because he knows every detail that is necessary for us to play well collectively and individually.
UEFA.com: United States striker Christen Press joined this year and has made a huge impact …
Marta: Yes, Press is a player who can play in different positions. Now we have the ability to switch all the time. Sometimes I drop back and she comes into the middle. She’s a player with ability and she can finish very well.
UEFA.com: Marta, you won the former UEFA Women’s Cup twice with Umeå. What status does this competition have around the world?
Marta: Today it has a bigger profile, today it’s called the Champions League, whereas in the past it was the UEFA Cup, so that already [makes it comparable to] the men’s Champions League. Today it’s at the same level, it’s considered the same thing apart from the different gender. That’s important, it gives a bigger value to the competition.
Secondly, there are a lot of teams in Europe that dream about playing in a Champions League, and that means women’s football grows every day and has an international reputation. It gives the competition stature. The decisions so far have already changed it a lot and it will grow even more.
UEFA.com: Veró, you came to the club when Marta arrived. How important has Marta been, with her experience, in achieving what you have done?
Boquete: Marta has always been my idol on the pitch, and still is for me personally. So to come here and have the chance to play with her … If we were already favourites, then with Marta in our team we were obliged to win. She has always been there for the team, she has scored important goals.
Watch Sweden take on Poland in the first round of the FIFA 2015 Women’s World Cup qualifying. Kickoff at 5.30 pm CET.
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