Episode 107: Women's World Cup Hype, Interview with Brazilian legend Sissi, and WNBA
On this week’s show, the gang's all here! Amira, Brenda, Jessica, Lindsay, and Shireen preview groups A, B, C of the Women's World Cup in France [6:09], Brenda interviews legendary Brazilian soccer player, Sissi, the Golden Boot winner of the 1999 World Cup to talk about her memories of that tournament and the state of women's soccer in Brazil [34:29]; and we get excited about the WNBA happenings, including hiring a commissioner and Liz Cambage's trade! [51:32]
Of course, you’ll hear the Burn Pile, [1:01:31] our Bad Ass Woman of the Week, starring the Women's Champion's League winners Olympique Lyonnais, and what is good in our worlds.
“Deloitte CEO Cathy Engelbert has been named WNBA commissioner https://www.swishappeal.com/wnba/2019/5/15/18624720/wnba-2019-deloitte-ceo-cathy-engelbert-to-be-named-president-lehigh-lisa-borders?_ga=2.177210534.226418084.1558110839-876548097.1554070506
“Why Liz Cambage’s trade to the Aces is incredible for the WNBA” https://www.sbnation.com/2019/5/16/18627861/liz-cambage-trade-las-vegas-aces-wnba-dallas-wings
“The High Post Hoops 2019 WNBA preview extravaganza” https://highposthoops.com/2019/05/17/high-post-hoops-wnba-preview-extravaganza/
“Of Sexism, Negligence, and Hope – the Women of IPL” https://thewire.in/sport/ipl-women-cricket-sexism
“Horse Deaths at Santa Anita and Pimlico: Same Day, Same Track Owner” https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/17/sports/horse-death-santa-anita-pimlico-.html
“Madrid Open: An Ascending Tsitsipas Upsets Nadal in Semis; Bertens Wins Women’s Title” https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/11/sports/madrid-open-djokovic-thiem-nadal-halep-bertens.html
“Olympique Lyonnais welcomed home after 6th Women's Champions League win” https://www.euronews.com/2019/05/20/olympique-lyonnais-welcomed-home-after-6th-women-s-champions-league-win
Brenda: Welcome to this week's episode of Burn It All Down. It's the feminist sports podcast you need. I'm Brenda Elsey, Associate Professor of History at Hofstra University in New York and this week, the gang’s all here. That includes my fellow historian, the brilliant Dr. Amira Rose Davis, Assistant Professor of History and Women's Gender & Sexuality Studies at Penn State, Jessica Luther, independent journalist, weightlifter, PhD candidate and baker in Austin, Texas. The great wordsmith and dog whisperer, Lindsay Gibbs, sports reporter at ThinkProgress in DC and the fierce Shireen Ahmed, freelance activist and the world's snuggliest in Toronto, Canada. Before we start, I would like to thank our patrons for their generous support and to remind our flamethrowers about our Patreon campaign. You can pledge a certain amount monthly to become an official patron of this podcast and in exchange for your monthly contribution you get access to special rewards.
Burn It All Down is a labor of love and we believe in this podcast. Having a producer, for example to help us grow, would be extra amazing. We are so grateful for your support and happy that our flame throwing family is growing. We have a kick ass show for you this week. On this episode number 107, we will discuss and preview groups A, B and C of the Women's World Cup in France. We interview Sissi, the legendary player from Brazil and Golden Boot winner of the 1999 Women's World Cup, about her recollections, the progress or lack thereof that Brazil has made and gender equality in the sport. We will also talk WNBA news but before all that, what's going on? We have the NBA. We have the NHL. Things are happening there. We all know that Amira has got to have some gloat time here so I'm just going to start there.
Shireen: Go ahead.
Brenda: Amira, how are you feeling?
Amira: Well to be honest-
Brenda: Tell listeners why you are happy, I guess.
Amira: Okay but can I just start by saying that the Celtics ruined our chance for complete and utter world domination?
Brenda: US domination, Amira.
Amira: Okay. Yeah, whatever. My point is that they irritate me. Anyways that aside, look at the Bruins y’all. I said this three episodes ago. That the topsy-turvy first round of the NHL playoffs made it a fairly easy path back to the finals for the Bruins but I did not think that that would include a sweep, which it did. Games were not really even that close, besides the first one but that ended up being 5-2.
Lindsay: We get it.
Amira: I'm really saying this is the professional preview of the Cup. Thank you very much. I'm being so unbiased.
Lindsay: I'm salty because the sweep was against the Hurricanes but I do say the bunch of jerks, the Carolina Hurricanes way over-achieved this year. What a fun team. The future for the bunch of jerks.
Amira: I know. Me and Lindsay had a very short competition but I didn't troll you, Lindsay. I didn't text you. I didn't. I was so good.
Lindsay: There wasn't any need to troll me it was a sweep!
Amira: I thought about texting.
Lindsay: The actual result was trolling enough!
Amira: I know. I thought about texting you after the first game.
Lindsay: I know you thought about texting.
Amira: Then I was like, “No.” Then after the second game it was so bad. Then I was like, “I'm just going to not.”
Brenda: I feel like this is passive trolling right now.
Lindsay: Do not bring it up. It's not even really that passive, Brenda. It's not even really that passive.
Shireen: I appreciate Amira holding back. If it was me, I'd be all up in your faces about Montreal winning, which they didn't come close to. They didn't make playoffs, but I appreciate that. I still will support you far more on baseball, than I will ever on hockey in Boston but I love you and that's it.
Brenda: Jess, do you have any NBA feelings right now?
Jessica: Well not really. I don't really follow playoffs for NHL and NBA but I did want to say that I caught this week this really sweet thing that happened on The Jump that made me very happy. I was in a restaurant and I looked up and I read the chyron and I was like, “Oh, I know exactly what that's about” because it said, “Jennifer is in studio” or whatever and they had CJ McCollum of the Trail Blazers. I don't know if anyone has seen this. It's one of the best tweets ever.
Amira: It's so good.
Jessica: He was tweeting about how good his team is, a couple of years ago, two or three years ago.
Lindsay: Last year.
Jessica: Last year. Jennifer Williams, this woman who lives in Chicago, responded to the tweet saying, “Win a playoff game then talk” and he wrote back to her in this now famous response, “I'm trying Jennifer,” which is the sweetest thing. Credit to The Jump and Rachel Nichols because they had Jennifer there on the set and CJ McCollum walked up behind her and they laughed and hugged. Then when Rachel asked like, “Is there anything you want to say to Jennifer?” CJ McCollum wrote, “Thank you. I appreciate you” and then they laughed and they shook hands and it was just really sweet because that's just how earnest the, “I'm trying Jennifer” tweet is. You can read it in there. I just love that The Jump had the two of them meet and it was just funny being in the restaurant and I was like, “Oh my gosh.” Aaron of course had no idea of what it was so I was like, “I'll explain it over dinner.” That was my fun NBA thing.
Amira: Trying to explain Twitter happenings to-
Lindsay: That's super cute.
Jessica: It's worst. I know but I really was like, “This is a good one. I'm going to do it.”
Brenda: Now onto the show. At Burn It All Down, we are so excited about the Women's World Cup. So excited that over the next weeks we will be sure that we spend plenty of time previewing and then experiencing and responding to what's going to be a really exceptional and interesting tournament for sure. In that vein, we want to give a little preview to the groups. We are going to start this week with the first three, A, B and C and we have Amira starting off, to give us a little bit of a rundown on Group A. Amira.
Amira: Happy to start. Group A features host country, France, along with Norway, Nigeria and Korea. Then I'm going to start today with Korea. Korea is certainly seen as the underdogs in this group. This is their third World Cup appearance. They came on the scene in 2003 and then they followed that up with 2015, so the last World Cup, It was the first time they had reached the knockout stage. They made it to the round of 16 in 2015 and they notched their first ever World Cup victory with a 2-1 win over Spain that same year. So they are underdogs but every time they get to the World Cup, they are building on new successes and reaching new heights. They are known for their defensive style and their discipline. Although that's what they are known for, is their defense. The two players I did want to highlight for you all are both strikers, are both offensive players. First, Ji So-yun, who is definitely their key player to watch. She's the leading scorer for the federation and she also plays for Chelsea.
You might be familiar with her there, for her overseas play. She's not the only striker to keep your eye on when you are looking at Korea. You should also look out for Yeo Min-ji, who is a dominant striker. Actually back in 2010, Korea had this fairy tale, Cinderella, really awesome win at the U-17 Women's World Cup in Trinidad and Tobago. She received both the Golden Boot and the Golden Glove back in 2010. Now unfortunately, an injury took her out of the 2015 Women's World Cup so she has yet to play at the major level with her national team and so this is a return for her and she's very excited. She said, “Listen, I know the draw we got. I know the team that we are with, the teams we are facing and I don't expect it to be easy, it’ll be tough but anything is possible.”
Next, we turn to Nigeria where the Super Falcons have long had a hold on the continent of Africa and the competition there. They won their ninth Women's African Cup this past year. Although it was a harder go this time, as I'm sure one of my co-hosts will preview when we get to South Africa. They really had to battle some up and coming teams but if you remember, two years ago the Super Falcons did a very public protest with support by many people in Nigeria. On Twitter people were trending Support Super Falcons, a very public protest when following their seventh or eighth title. They were saying, “Hey, we are not getting paid.” They were owed back payments. There was a stand-off, discrepancy between the Sports Ministry and the local Football Federation that resulted in people not getting paid. There were certainly payments being made to the Super Eagles, to the men's side and so as we know, women are usually going to suffer disproportionate amounts in terms of athletic allocation and that was no different there.
This very public protest resulted in a lot of public shaming about the fact that the Super Falcons were really dominant and not getting compensation, not getting paid. There wasn't investment being put in them, despite their successes. There has been efforts by their federation and the Sports Ministry to really repair that public perception but it resulted in the team really not playing for a whole year and not having a coach for a year. They appointed Thomas Dennerby, who is a Swedish coach, back in 2018 so this is a fresh squad. It's just back together after some turmoil so it will be very interesting to see what the Super Falcons bring to the World Cup this year.
Now as dominant as they have been in playing the Africa Cup, it's not really translated into a deep run at the Women's World Cup. We'll see if this is the year they can really break in. They are led and known by their gory attack and their speed. Led of course by Asisat Oshoala, who is a striker. She is a three time African Player of the Year. Back in 2014 she played the U-20 in the Women's World Cup where they were finalists, where she won the Golden Boot as well as the Golden Glove so she is definitely a player to watch and keep your eyes on and we'll see what the squad does. They have many supporters cheering for them, both in Nigeria and around the diaspora. Next up is in Norway. Norway has been to every Women's World Cup. They won the 1995 World Cup but since then, have struggled to get back to the finals. In the last few World Cups they have gotten as close as fourth place but in 2015 they didn't get out of the round of 16. They are going to have a harder time this year because they are certainly missing the most high profile prolific player for the Norway national team, the one and only Ada Hegerberg.
Ada, if you remember, recent Ballon d'Or winner plays for OL, just got a hat trick this week in the Champ Leagues Final, premier player who stopped playing for her national team in 2017 and she's never given straight up play by play reason. However, when she did stop playing, she expressed the disgruntlement in the compensation given to the men's side versus the women's side. In fact, she stopped playing for them in September of 2017, loosely citing this disparity. In October of 2017 the federation announced that they were taking some compensation from the men's side to up compensation for the women, to bring it closer to 50/50. Although they say, “Oh, it's not a reaction to Ada,” it seems to have been. It also didn't sway her. So she's not playing in the Women's World Cup for Norway. The Norwegian team has said, “Listen, we are focusing on the players we have here in front of us and Ada doesn't want to play for us so we are not playing.”
Recently, some of her contemporaries from the United States and other people across the globe were saying, “Once again, why isn't she playing?” Heather O'Reilly tweeted, “I don't mean to beat a dead horse but if Messi or Ronaldo opted not to play in the World Cup, the world would know why with clarity.” What they are pointing to is the fact that she's never really specified but she has given answers about what she sees as a lack of investment from the youth level, on up in the girls' and women's side of football in Norway. She said, “I've been really honest with the national team representative. I feel like it's not good enough.” She later said, “Look, I've always respected men footballers for what they earn but the gap is enormous and you need to give young women and girls the same opportunity. There are federations. There are clubs. There are men in high positions who have had the responsibility to put women in the right place. I think, I feel, I know we have a long way to go.”
It will be interesting to watch this continue to play out but in her absence a lot of the leadership on the Norway squad falls to Maren Mjelde, who is a defensive midfielder and doesn't bring the same scoring threat by any means, that Ada does, but certainly is the kind of defensive mind and controller on the pitch for Norway. She will shoulder a lot of the leadership and we'll see what Norway does. Lastly, that brings us to host nation, France. Obviously, they automatically qualified because they are the host nation. However, even without that, they are one of the top clubs in the world. This squad in particularly has funded the growth of women's soccer in France. As noted by the fact that their coach, Corinne Deacon, just did a live announcement of the roster last week, which is the first time that they've ever had a live presser for the announcement of the Women's World roster in France. The roster contained a few surprises.
They have a dominant squad, mostly coming from one of the most dominant teams across sports, across the world, the Olympique Lyonnais, OL. If you don't know, look them up. They just won Champs League again yesterday. As I mentioned, Ada scored the hat trick but on the French squad they have seven players from this dominant team, including their stars, Wendie Renard, Amandine Henry and their star striker, Eugénie Le Sommer, who all are returning players, They are an experienced squad. They have nine returning players from 2015 so there's not really any surprises. There was a little bit of a dust-up. Some people thought that they have a young striker and a top scorer, Marie-Antoinette Katoto, who many thought would make the squad because she has a lot of experience and she's really good in league play.
She's had some inconsistency on the national team appearances. Her and Deacon had public tension when Deacon said, “She needs to get her priorities in order.” She questioned her focus publicly and so she, Marie-Antoinette was left off the squad. The coach said, “Listen, she has enormous potential. She's still young now. She got her life ahead of her. We are going to have amazing experiences in the years to come but she is lacking something so I made a hard choice.” That's the one thing that caused people to pause a little bit but generally, the roster is stocked full of people. Now, this is a squad that has always been good but not great. They have always been a threat, but never too threatening. They have never done better than quarter finals and they've always been one of the teams to watch for and never have seen to break through but perhaps this is the year that that changes.
Of course with the men winning the Cup last summer, the football gods, the fever might be in the air but also because this team is just on an amazing winning streak. They won nine of their last 10, including beating both the United States and Japan 3-1 within that timeframe. Their only loss in their last 10 games have come a 1-0 defeat by Germany. More importantly, within those 10 games they outscored 32-4. They've only conceded four goals in their last 10 games. Perhaps this is the year, especially with Ada out. Perhaps this is the year that they break through and maybe the home soil, maybe home turf will help them do that. They are a quick team. They are a fast team. They have a lot of weapons. It will be very interesting to see if perhaps this is the year they get it done.
Brenda: Thanks, Amira. That's exciting. Shireen, you want to catch us up on Group B?
Shireen: Yes. Thanks, Brenda. Group B we've got Germany, China, Spain and South Africa. I'm going to do a little rundown pretty quickly, of each team and just give you my personal insights because of course I will. First of all, FIFA rankings are a total bullshit and I give you this not just because I defer to one of those brilliant minds in football, Dr. Brenda Elsey, but because Germany is ranked two. Now I know you all are sitting there going, “But they won the Women's World Cup in 2003 and 2007.” Yes but that's pretty much where that ends in that whole-
Lindsay: Whole time.
Shireen: It was a long time ago and so I think it's embarrassing. Don't get me wrong. There are some really fantastic players, notably Dzsenifer Marozsán, who just won with Lyon yesterday. They also have Carolin Simon. The rest of their squad actually plays in the Bundesliga, in Germany. I think this is really important to see. A lot of people have said in the Twitterverse, the soccer Twitterverse, that they are up and coming team and I'm like, “What do you mean up and coming?” Germany is actually a very interesting team and their federation isn't the worst of the worst. I mean I know the bar is not high for supporting women's football by federations, but they really haven't developed in a way that you think they should, considering women's football actually have development programs. Bayern Munich has a program for girls. It's like, okay, where are we? I will forever miss Nadine Angerer. I'm just going to say that. We are going to go into China, which is actually ranked number 16 and China is really interesting.
They were most notably known in the United States for being runners up in ‘99 and we don't hear enough about China. I mean their coaching is by Jia Xiuquan and they most recently won the 4 Nations Cup, which is not a huge tournament. Considering there are not a lot of teams that participate in international tournaments like this pre-World Cup, it's pretty notable. One of their most famous players and the only one of their squad that plays outside of China is Wang Shuang, who plays for Paris Saint-Germain in France. She is the first Chinese player to ever score in a Champs League so that's pretty notable. For me, I'm very excited. I think it's one of the matches I'm hoping to actually catch while in there and I want to see them play. They are tactically very strong, not like Nadeshiko but tactically, there is a lot, a lot in their ball control. Tactical playing is a big part of the way China moves and it will be really interesting to see that.
That's why this group is so interesting because very different styles are played throughout. Our second European team in Group B is Spain, coached by Jorge Vilda and I think that's really interesting. Actually, their captain is Marta Torrejón, who also plays. I think one of the things for me about this team is that the Spain women's national football team really had a difficult time. They went through incredible amounts of difficulty. We see most federations having to come up with nothing, no support, lack of acknowledgement, even minimal equipment. Unfortunately, the men's side, they are World Cup winners but are touted with so much support, despite their absolutely dismal performance in Rio. I think this is something that we are going to see them up and coming. They have some very notable youth players that are coming up and this is very, very important to keep in mind. As China, their youth teams are really notable and always make the semis in the under 17 and under 20s.
That's something else that I wanted to add. Lastly, we have been Banyana Banyana, South Africa. This is South Africa's first appearance in the Women's World Cup. They are led by Janine van Wyk, who is an incredible Twitter follow. She is just wonderful. They are coached by Desiree Ellis, who is one of the only female coaches in the continent and they are very positive. I follow them. I think they are an incredibly hype team. Their fans are wonderful, very, very supportive. This year, I found out from Janine van Wyk's Twitter account, is the first time the women's side has actually been given corporate sponsorship and they were giving corporate sponsorship by a petrol company and this is really notable because it was literally the first time and there's a lot of excitement for them going to the Women's World Cup. The other thing I was going to say was that the joy with which they bring football to the pitch is a different level.
They are a very athletic team, meaning they are very strong. They are very aggressive on the ball. Tactically, their formations are a bit different. They don't play traditional style like 4-4-2 or something like that. They really switch it up. I think one of the first times I've ever seen five on the backline was by South Africa so I'm really interested to see how they measure up to the other teams. This is a pretty strong group in the sense of, it's not the strongest in terms of rankings but I expect to see some really interesting changes here in terms of how they are going to go forward. I don't like saying this, what's the weakest team in the group? I feel like at this point, I'll phrase it this way, South Africa are the underdogs here now. Now, they are also coming into this with nothing to lose.
They will bring their joy. They will bring their passion and I really hope to see vuvuzelas because I love them and I think they are great. Hopefully one of the matches that I get to see is South Africa versus China. I'm really excited about that. Also, I think I forgot to mention who is coaching Germany so I'll just say that. They are being coached by Martina Voss-Tecklenburg and captained by Alexandra Popp. I think that they will be really exciting to watch. I expect a lot of technical football from Germany. Now, I also expect Germany to go through and China to go through with relative ease. That is Group B. The last thing I want to say about this group is their kits are dope.
Brenda: Lindsay, did you want to add something to Shireen's breakdown here?
Lindsay: Yeah. First of all, I just learned so much. She was talking about how South Africa has really been fighting against their federation for any sort of resources. This got so extreme that after qualifying for the 2018 Women's Africa Cup of Nations, they protested because they didn't even receive the stipends that they were supposed to get from the South African Football Association. Then the South African Football Association, they decided to not return their kits so didn't return any of their uniforms and South Africa then deducted the kit cost from their net pay. We just got to really support these women because they are incredible. I have one question. Spain, the last World Cup, after they didn't make it past the group stages they all released an open letter requesting that their manager, Quereda, be fired and really exposing a lot of the toxicity that had been in that program for decades really. Shireen or Brenda, have we seen improvements in the past four years? Are things better?
Shireen: I just field this really quickly, there's one thing I forgot to say and I can weave it in. South Africa were also runners-up with AFCON. They lost to Nigeria. The thing is that I don't think we always see progressive upwards movement from federations. Federations are pushed and they are only pushed when teams end up in results. Now the fact that South Africa, Nigeria, both were treated so poorly by their federations, on a recent hot take with Brenda and Stephanie that I did in New York, I talked about this, that Nigeria specifically and the Football Federation of South Africa did not pay their players despite their amazing performances. I'm not going to be hopeful and say that I think there's a steady upward movement in this regard. I think that the players are having to do all the work and the fans are speaking out and that's creating the shift. I don't think there's any positivity coming from federations. I have no faith in them.
Lindsay: Even with Spain though, are things better with Spain?
Shireen: Brenda, you might field this too because I know we've had a couple of conversations about Spain and the gong show that was in women's football.
Brenda: Yeah. I mean the women that did that protested at the detriment to their international careers. They haven't been called up. I mean they were older but still. It did result in a change in coaching. The previous coach was, I believe, 28 years, which would be fine if he had won anything ever.
Lindsay: He had a 38% winning record. It's staggering.
Brenda: It's a long time to keep a job that you are really bad at.
Shireen: Oh, terrible. Terrible.
Brenda: I mean, I think yes, things are better but I don't think they could have really been worse.
Shireen: Well said.
Brenda: Sorry. I'm so rosy. All right. Thank you, Shireen. Group C is an exciting group. It's got some crowd favorites, Australia, Italy, Brazil and Jamaica. Jamaica is the first Caribbean nation to qualify for Women's World Cup. It's really exciting. We've had different members of the team, Nicole McClure, on the show and I know that here at Burn It All Down we were really excited for the Reggae Girlz. Their lack of support from the federation and CONCACAF has meant that Jamaica has been largely funded by Bob Marley's daughter.
Lindsay: It's true.
Brenda: Lovely as that is, it shouldn't be the case that you need a celebrity to do this. This is a national team. But we are really excited for them. It will be a challenging group for them to get out of, as it will be for Italy. Italy has really also, like France, had a pretty exponential growth in its women's league. Now, Italian women had already had some of the earliest leagues in the 1960s that were incredibly popular and when those leagues had organized independently, they had more success. When they were integrated into FIFA and into the Italian Federation, they stagnated. It's interesting to see an uptick again, particularly in Juventus. The Italian captain, Sara Gama, she is of Congolese decent and she is a super cool defender and I think she's worth watching. I'll be really interested to see how she defends, versus Australia and Brazil in particular. So there's that.
I would expect they also have a big challenge getting out of this group but you never know. As Shireen said, you can't count anybody out really. The two that most people think are likely to go forward, Australia and Brazil, they have an ongoing rivalry. The last Women's World Cup in Canada, Australia knocked Brazil out, 1-0 and it was a really difficult and disappointing World Cup for the Brazilians and a very exciting and promising World Cup for the Australians. They are going to meet again. It should be really exciting. Australia, everyone is going to be watching Sam Kerr. I know she's a big pick here at Burn It All Down too. The 25 year old phenom who is already the NWSL's all time leading score plays for the Chicago Red Stars and seems like an all around badass, good person as well, indigenous heritage. Right, Shireen?
Shireen: Yeah. I love her. I love Sam Kerr so much.
Brenda: I think I'm loving Sam Kerr too and that's not easy for me because I traditionally do not love Australian sports because they are really racist and stuff. Then we have Brazil, of course my personal favorite but in a recent hot take that Shireen and I did with Stephanie Yang like she mentioned before, something that Stephanie said that really has been haunting me the last few days because I've been thinking a lot about this team is just how worried you are when you watch them play. It's like you know the federation is waiting for a reason to deny them even more resources than they already do. Actually after the Olympics, after the fourth place finish, the federation said they were thinking about cutting the women's program altogether.
Brenda: What is that? I mean for a very long time they have been the only team from the global south to be in the top echelons of women's soccer so it is really depressing to see this happen. They have an amazing team, I just have to say. They do not lack talent. They never lack talent. You should keep your eye on Debinha. I mean there's always Marta but Debinha always plays really well for the national team, even better than the Courage, in my opinion. Tamires is always in top shape. They could basically field 10 forwards. It's ridiculous. They had 13 scorers, I believe, in the qualifying, in the tournament in just two weeks. They are always fun to watch but I'm very worried about the general state of their convening. They are headed to Portugal next week and we'll see what they can do.
Amira: I was just going to say that what Brenda just said, that's the stress thinking about a lot of these federations and a lot of these squads going into the Women's World Cup, is how much pressure for just basic sustainability is placed on winning. I think about this in distinction to when we look at the men's teams or whatever. Whereas given, of course we are going to invest in and throw support behind this team and I look at so many of these squads that we are talking about and it feels like they are playing for so much more than themselves because they are playing for the future support of women's sports in general.
Every loss is potentially giving fuel and ammunition to people who are detractors to further the justification of defunding or not paying or not supporting these amazing athletes. That's from places from the global south that Brenda just mentioned, all the way up to, if you look at the text of the lawsuit that the US women's national team filed, so much predicate of that is on winning. It's just very stressful for me personally to think about that kind of pressure that so many of these squads are playing under.
Shireen: Amira, totally in terms of pressure to perform, particularly when you've got individual players that are singled out. What federations often do is they piggyback on the success of individual players and that's equally problematic. Just for example, South Africa has Thembi Kgatlana who is amazing and she is a superstar but it's almost like the federation rallies around one or two players, which is also problematic because the whole point is to support the team and the program and that's not what we see happens. Then there's extra pressure on those individual players, which very interestingly Ada Hegerberg has avoided completely by not going and this feeds into it because if they don't win, they are penalized. If they win, they are still not given what they are due so the whole thing is a gong show.
Brenda: Gong show, it maybe but it's a gong show we are excited to see.
Now we have a very special interview with the Brazilian legendary player, Sissi. I'm thrilled today to get to talk once again to Sissi, the amazing legendary Brazilian women's player who is now Youth Director and coach at Walnut Creek and also Assistant Coach for Solano College. She was the 1999 Golden Boot winner and has about a million awards. Sissi, thank you for joining me today.
Sissi: Thank you Brenda for having me.
Brenda: I just wanted to start really quickly. It's coming up on the 20th anniversary of the 1999 World Cup, which is seen as one of the glorious moments in the history of the women's game. Could you tell me a little bit about what your memories are or when you look back, what you think of?
Sissi: Oh my gosh. There are a lot of good memories, of course besides losing to US of course because every time, especially when I have talk to my friends about ‘99, especially here in United States, they are always like, “Yeah but you guys lost to US.” Okay. That's fine but it was probably one of the most, I would say, the best experiences of my life with the national team, with that group. It's funny because right before we had to go for the training camp, I had a bad injury and I was not supposed to even play that year, if I have to follow my doctor's instruction because basically, I was suppose to have surgery and I said, “There is no way for me to have surgery” because I knew something special was on the way. I don't know how to describe that but I had that feeling, there is something special and I said, “Sorry but I can't have any surgery right now.” I broke bones on my face playing futsal and he said, “Sorry but you've got to go. You have to have surgery.”
I said, “No. There is no way.” I went to the camp and I had to basically lie to the doctors because nobody knew, besides my closest friends but I went to the training camp. Nobody knew exactly what was going on. Of course I had, before that, black eyes. It was bad. I had to go to the emergency room and everything. When the doctor came back and said, “No. You got to have surgery,” I said, “No. There is no way” so I went to the training camp and we came to United States and things started to happen. I was never a player that scored a lot of goals before because my job was to be the playmaker, to build the plays and have the vision of the field. That's always my job but I was never a finisher and things started to happen for me and it was unbelievable and I remember well enough that even talking to the players afterwards, especially girls like Brandy, there was always a question mark.
Are we going to be able to sell tickets? When we started to see people come to the games, I couldn't believe it. I was like, “Oh my gosh, this is happening.” It was a thrill to be in the bus, go to the state and you see that much people come and watch our game. It was unbelievable. It was definitely one of the best experiences I ever had in my whole life and not even as a soccer player but with the national team. The group was very special for me. We had the same common goals and it was beautiful to watch after and especially now to see how much the people come to the games, the finals especially. I was speechless, even though we played for third place but to see all who played had the chance to be part of that. I don't think they are ever going to forget that. I have to say I cried, walking, leaving the locker room to go to the field, and you look around. I felt lost. That definitely was the best experience so I was very fortunate to be part of that.
Brenda: Do you remember any one of the goals in particular that was your favorite?
Sissi: Of course the goal that I scored against Italy. I scored one with my left foot, one with my right foot and it was my first time scoring a goal with my right foot but the goal against Nigeria, that feeling, winning 3-0 and the tie, 3-3. We go to overtime, the first golden goal in women's history. I scored that goal, running through the fence. I almost took my shirt off, that sensation, all the sacrifices, all the wait. I don't know. That goal was special. All the goals that I scored, definitely each one was special for me but that one against Nigeria was probably one of the best of my career because I said, “There is no way we are going to stop right here.” We still have a lot to show so I say, “There is no way.” Nigeria took that moment for us but it was at a very crazy game, overall.
Brenda: Did you feel like people in Brazil got a big message, that women's football was here to stay in Brazil?
Sissi: A little bit. I think here I get the sensation that yes, now we are moving forward, in Brazil not so much. When we came back, we had maybe a few people that came to the airport. Again, it doesn't matter the number from me because I was like, “Oh my gosh, this is the first time we have people to come and waiting for us.” At that point it was not about the quantity but it was more, yes they are here. They finally start to understand. Yes we can do this. We are not trying to compete against men. That's not exactly what we are trying to do.
We want to make sure we still have our space. We want to show that we can play but it was not like the feeling of leaving United States. You know what I mean? Because you knew at that moment, oh my gosh, that's unbelievable. We can do this. People pay attention more because we have a message to deliver but in Brazil it took time and it's been like that. Every time we have a competition, people talk and everybody got excited but after that we are going back to the real world. It's not like when Brazil is preparing for a Men's World Cup. It's very different. Who knows?
Brenda: I have a question that is not really as political as it is just about your game and I've watched a lot of those old footage. I've always thought of you as an attacking midfielder and as you said, a playmaker but you didn't wear eight, which is frequently what we think of as the signature South American number. Why 10?
Sissi: Well let's go back. When I started playing professionally for the first time at age 14, my first coach said, “You got to be number 10” but I don't have an idea of what it means wearing number 10. Of course I knew about Pelé and basically all the players that I started to like, they were all number 10, Pelé, Zico, all those players. I said, “Oh my gosh, they are so brilliant, the way they play.” He said, “You are going to be number 10” but there was no explanation of why I should be and I finally started to understand more later. It always came with the pressure because always people say, “The best players are always going to wear number 10” and it was not the case. It was more, “Okay, you are going to be number 10 because that's the playmaker.”
“That's the player that is very different” but I never looked at myself as being different but that's what after I started to have a better understanding. It took time because I knew it came with a lot of pressure and people trying to compare me with those guys and I did not want that. I want to be myself. I don't want to meet people that are trying to compare me with Pelé. There is no way. I said, “I want to create my own identity” but yes, I was attacking midfielder, the player that is going to make things happen, the player that has the freedom. I did not have a lot of responsibility. I was never good on defending but I had to adjust my game but that was the case for me to say, “Here, go ahead” but at the beginning I didn't know. I started to have it maybe and I accepted more later on but I didn't want people always to compare me with those guys.
Even though they were my idols I said, “That's going to be me” but I was nothing with eight. It was more that 10 and that's what you are going to be. It's funny because I don't see a lot of players like that anymore, even in women's soccer and that's what I tried to create here. I said, “Can we create that number 10 again?” Because now even Marta is more of a finisher but Marta is not a playmaker. We were opposites. My game is very different than hers. I'm still missing the player. Even on men's, watching Brazil, I don't think Neymar is the playmaker either and that's what I try to create here. In my team I say, “Can I create that number 10?” It's been very difficult because it's not easy. Friends say, “I don't know if you are ever going to see a player like you.” The game has changed so much but yes, I do miss the players that I watched before.
Brenda: You miss that version of number 10?
Sissi: I do. I really do. Again, they always compare me with Marta but we are very opposite. Besides being lefty, Marta is more of a finisher. She dribbles more. My game was more, okay, create plays. See the whole field, have the vision, very different.
Brenda: You've been a very successful futsal player as well. Do you think that was really important in shaping you?
Sissi: Yes. I think I was a better futsal player. Honestly, futsal helped me so much because it's a tight space. You got to think very fast. There is a lot of movement off the ball and there is a lot of thinking. There's a lot of decision making but it helped me with my touches as well. Futsal, sometimes you don't have time on the ball and that helped me so much and when I was of course in a soccer field, it was a little bit different. I enjoyed because it allowed me to be thinking all the time and-
Brenda: I can hear you snapping.
Sissi: Yes, exactly.
Sissi: I played for many years in Brazil. Even here, I enjoy when I have to play four versus four in a tight space and I think that's where the creativity came from. Futsal now is here. It's growing.
Brenda: Yeah. You mean in California?
Sissi: Yes and I try to incorporate this in our program to make sure the girls play futsal because it's very important.
Brenda: And the ‘99, that generation of Brazilian players, when most of them were born there was a legal ban on women playing football in Brazil and playing soccer in Brazil, which is pretty unique but it seems as though that didn't get in any of your way.
Sissi: No, not in my way at all. Of course I was born in a very small town. Everybody knew each other. It was me playing with boys. A lot of times it was me playing with my dad and my brother until I had access to play with boys but it was me doing a lot of training on my own. I started with my doll's head, for you to know. My first soccer ball was my doll's head. My dad said, “What are you doing?” We are playing soccer. Who cares? I was very persistent. I did not, again say, “You cannot do this.” My mom said, “There is not future.” I heard about this law and I said, “Who cares? I'm in the middle of nowhere in Esplanada.”
Brenda: For people who don't know Esplanada, Brazil.
Sissi: Exactly. My dad got a new job. We had to move to a different city now and again. Here we go again. I finally saw the first girl playing soccer and it was in Campo Formoso, again in the middle of nowhere. I was like, “Okay, now finally I can do something.” But still I had to be playing with the boys and I got in trouble a lot because of that but luckily, I heard there was this team in a different city, one hour from where I was living and they said, “Oh, they are all looking for players” so I finally said, “Okay, let's go.” I joined this team, first organized team in Senhor do Bonfim, one hour from my city and that's when I started playing. I heard a lot of things about Haddad that was from Rio de Janeiro. There was this team in Rio and I said, “That's it.” My mom was like, “Again, my goal for you is to make sure you are going to finish school. You are going to be a teacher.” I was like, “No way. That's not going to happen.
I want to become a professional soccer player. I want to play for Brazil and that's it.” It was already inside of my head. That's what I want to do. At 14 be are double header. This team came from Feira de Santana and we played. He brought men's and women's soccer. We played a double header. He's like, “Okay. Do you want to join?” I said, “You've got to talk to my parents.” He drove to my house, talked to my parents. My mom, “What? 14 years old. You think that you are going to leave?” I said, “Yes, I will. You got to let me.” My dad at that point he knew, this girl, she was born with a gift, even though my dad's dream was for my brother to become a professional soccer player. My brother said, “No. I will not do that, not because he wanted me to.” I said, “You've got to let me go” and I said, “I promise I'll finish school. I'll go to school every day but please, let me go” and that's when I left.
Brenda: Sissi, thank you so much for being on Burn It All Down, and go Brazil!
As excited as we are about soccer, there is a whole lot going on with women's basketball. Linds, do you want to take us through some of the exciting news?
Lindsay: Yes. First of all, I want to put pressure on myself and say we will have a hot take this week diving deep into this entire WNBA season, doing a lot of a preview work so hold me accountable, flamethrowers, on that but we want to talk briefly about two bits of exciting news in the WNBA this year - this week, excuse me. First of all, there is a commissioner and not just a president, a commissioner. For the first time in WNBA history, there is a leader with that title and so that is really important. It is Cathy Engelbert, who is not going to start until July 17th because she is finishing up her run as the first woman to ever lead a big four professional services company.
She is currently the CEO of Deloitte. There's a lot of excitement around this hire. She used to actually play basketball at Lehigh for Muffet McGraw so she's been heavily involved in women's basketball for years. She also knows so much about business and about marketing. I talked to Elena Delle Donne this week at practice and she seemed really optimistic about this hire and so that's really great news. Also, Liz Cambage is going to be in WNBA this year. The trade is done, so exciting. She was traded from the-
Lindsay: Dallas Wings to the Las Vegas Aces. She didn't get the Sparks, which was her top choice but I think we can all agree that it seems like Vegas and Liz will be a really good fit. That is really exciting news. The trade was for four pieces, so a first and a second round draft pick for next year. I mean the Aces gave up those and they also traded Moriah Jefferson, former UConn guard and Isabelle Harrison, a former Tennessee center who was in the WNBA last year. These are some pieces that Dallas can really help rebuild around and they have a lot of really team friendly contracts on their books so I honestly think that this is going to work out really well for everyone and I can be excited. Jess, I know you've been following this. What are your thoughts?
Jessica: I mean I'm really thrilled for Cambage. She had these very sad almost Instagram stories early in the week when the trade looked like it was going to happen and then it looked like it wasn't going to happen and you just feel for her. I mean the season is starting this week so this is so late. I just keep thinking about, these women work under these conditions where everything is happening like this. I mean she's in Australia, right? She's flying back, I assume, any second now. It's thrilling, the idea of her and A'ja Wilson on the same team. I'm looking forward to those Instagram stories. It's going to be amazing.
Amira: Yeah, and they have so much height on the squad!
Jessica: Yeah, so much height. I mean I love Kayla McBride. I think she's just such a phenomenal shooter, to see all of them together. I'm thinking a lot about, the Wings are the closest team to me so I think about them a fair amount. They also got Imani McGee Stafford from the Dream this week. It's hard to imagine anyone really replacing Liz Cambage. She is just so damn dominant and so good and so tall but it will be interesting with Moriah Jefferson and Isabelle Harrison and Imani McGee Stafford. Skylar Diggins-Smith, she just had a baby boy. It's not clear exactly when she'll be back of course, the way those things work but it will be interesting to see what these guys are able to do together, underneath Agler who is their new head coach. He has a really great history with LA.
I think I was listening to either the WNBA Insider or WNBA Weekly. I can't remember which podcast so I apologize for that. They are both great. They mentioned how now the west is totally stacked and I thought that was a really interesting point. The west now has Phoenix and Seattle, which of course we are dealing with Taurasi out in Phoenix and Breanna Stewart out in Seattle but still, Phoenix and Seattle, LA and the Aces. The Wings will be playing in that side. Then the other side on the east, I don't know how you feel about this, Lindsay but really I feel like I don't know where the Sun are now that Chiney Ogwumike has left for the Lakers but the two dominant teams on that side are Atlanta and the Mystics and so that leaves-
Lindsay: She left for the Sparks, not the Lakers but yes.
Jessica: Oh, I thought said LA. Oh shit. I meant to say LA. On the east, all we really have as far as power teams are Atlanta and Washington because now that Chiney Ogwumike has left for LA, I don't know where the Sun are. Then the other teams are the Chicago Sky, Indiana fever and New York Liberty, which are three teams that really struggle so it does really seem like this season is going to be about the west.
Lindsay: Yeah, I agree with that but also, the Sun are going to be really good, Jonquel Jones. One of the big reasons that the Sun were even looking at trades for Chiney Ogwumike was because last year they had Jonquel Jones who has, I think MVP potential coming off the bench and there was really a backlog of talent. You are going to have Jonquel Jones. I think this is going to be a superstar year. She looks really good. Last year she had some visa issues and really had a rough start to the beginning of the year. I don't think we've ever gotten a full story there but she didn't come to training camp or didn't come into the season in great shape. Then coming from the bench, really never got going but I think that we are going to see her really take flight.
It's important to remember that while the east/west impacts scheduling a little bit, I think the east teams play each other. It doesn't actually impact anything in the playoffs. Everything is rejiggered for the playoffs so there's no East versus West in the WNBA playoffs. It's seated one through eight. No conferences taken into impact. I think really you’re just going to see so much star power. Emma Meesseman is back for the Washington Mystics, which is really great news. I really do think with Dallas, I know everyone is a little doom and gloom right now but it is so hard to build your franchise around an international player because they are going to be out, right? They are going to miss time for international commitments.
I mean this year Meesseman, she is going to be gone for another month for EuroBasket competition in the middle of the season so if the Mystics didn't have Delle Donne as a constant, they'd be in really big trouble. I think the Aces are much better suited to handle the ups and downs of an international star like Liz Cambage, whereas the Wings really need to build much more solid core and I think they can do that. It's going to be a couple of years but I think they are on a good trajectory. I'm just excited.
Amira: I just wanted to remind everybody how you can watch the WNBA. First of all, they have amazing league pass that is only $16.99 or you can just follow one team for under $10 and this is a tremendous value for all of the basketball you get to see. Also, of course we've covered on this show, have entered into a new deal with CBS Sports and have expanded coverage on ESPN on ABC. In total there's about 75, 76 games that will be available via live TV or streaming on Twitter, which is something they have done in the past and that they will return to for at least 20 games this season as well. I implore everybody who wants to see who your closest team are or pick a team that you like, you get behind. I know the Aces have to a really great Twitter following that Shay has ripped up into ridiculousness. Pick a team, get league pass, watch on Twitter. I think that where to watch is vitally important to know and spread the word.
Shireen: I wanted to just add about Liz Cambage. I follow her on Instagram and actually, her Instagram gives me life. I wanted to say that the trade from Dallas meant a lot to her because she was sharing on her stories very personal reactions. I hate the fact that we talk about “humanizing” athletes but she really gave fans an insight into how difficult this was for her. One of the things that actually made me really happy is she posted to her Insta story when she had an exchange with Azurá Stevens, who we've actually had on the show and interviewed her last year. The exchange, although she was leading Dallas, Azurá gave her big hugs and was like, “I can't wait to block you” and there was so much joy for her teammates, for her.
Even though she was leaving that team, it shows how committed they are to each other's happiness and what's good for her. My prayer is just this be good for her. She deserves so much and she's been so honest with all of her fans and supporters of the game, about what this journey has been and I didn't know how arduous and taxing it was on her. Not everything we see on social media is beautiful. Shocking, I know. I just wanted to send that love and solidarity out to those players that really struggle and thank you to Liz for giving us that insight into what it's really like to be stuck in a trade limbo.
Brenda: Now it's time for everybody's favorite segment, the Burn Pile. This is where we put all of the things that we've hated in sport this week in a tremendous pile to set aflame. Amira, you want to start us off?
Amira: Sure. I want to talk about Preakness. Preakness is a horse race. The 144th Preakness was done this past weekend in Baltimore. I want to talk about where it takes place. Preakness takes place in the Park Heights neighborhood in northwest Baltimore. I used to live quite near, about six minutes away. Park Heights has a Black section and predominantly white Jewish section. It's a very long road that stretches from Baltimore so the racetrack is placed in the middle of the Black side of Park Heights. It's a neighborhood that is very under-resourced and over-policed, under-resourced and once a year all of these very rich white people come and gather in the middle of Park Heights and a lot of people come and drink and have this whole celebration around this. When you are watching this on TV, they only show you the infield.
The only show you that and they don't show you the neighborhood. They don't show you anything else and so there's a huge discussion now, if Preakness is going to stay in Park Heights like it's been for the last 100-plus years or if it's going to move to Laurel. There's a great piece on The Undefeated by a fellow colleague, Stacey Patton, who is writing about this particular relationship the Black community has with Preakness but the thing that really irritates me about it is the investment in Preakness when you juxtapose it with the lack of investment in the surrounding neighborhood. To quote one of the residents talking about it, they say, “The white folks come here once a year to gamble, get drunk. Some of them come across the street, buy a little weed or some crack. The police just sit there and don't do anything because they get paid off.
When the race is over, they get out of here before it's dark. They don't give a fuck about this neighborhood until the next year.” Anytime I think about Preakness, I look at Baltimore thinking about proposing all of this money and invest what they are proposing to put into the track to keep Preakness in Baltimore and so it doesn't move to Laurel. I watched them do this when they revitalized Inner Harbor for one of these NASCAR Indy races and they spent millions of dollars boosting sporting infrastructure to keep these things in Baltimore, despite the fact that they won't spend a dime, they put no resources into helping the surrounding areas and not helping in a gentrifying way but sincerely caring about these Black neighborhoods. It's really irritating for me to see, particularly with Preakness because I know the area. I used to get the best Jamaican food right there on the corner, next to the track and, fuck-
Shireen: I don't think Jamaican food when I think horse races. That's awesome.
Amira: Well the Jamaican food was from the community, the Black people in the community who are cooking the soul food, Jamaican food, whatever. The horse race just happens to be one weekend and all those other white people show up and discover this part of Baltimore. I just hate it and I want to burn it down.
Jessica: I'm just piggybacking right off of Amira to talk about the Preakness. It was a big story, the Will one that then it was upstaged by Bodexpress, this horse that actually through its jockey off right at the beginning and it actually ran the race without him. Cool, I guess but the day before the race, Joe Drape of the New York Times wrote about horse deaths in racing and I honestly don't understand how horse racing is still a thing. I've got to say I don't know a ton about the sport. I admit that so maybe I'm missing crucial context here. If so, I guess I'd like to hear it but Drape's piece says on Friday, the day before the Preakness, “A three year old filly named Congrats Gal died after pulling up and finishing last in the nine horse field in the Miss Preakness Stakes,” so literally at the Preakness.
The horse collapsed onto the ground 100 yards after finishing. Then on the same day across the country of Santa Anita Park in Southern California, “A three year old gelding named Commander Coil became the 24th fatality at the race track since December 26th, a turn of events that had already that already had suspended racing at the track twice and threatened to close down the sport in the state forever. They fatality was a first since March 31st at Santa Anita, which announced a ban on the use of medication and whips on racing days after the 22nd death.” Then Drape drops this bit in there, “Nearly 10 horses a week on average died at American race tracks in 2018, according to the Jockey Club's Equine Injury Database.
That fatality rate is anywhere from two and a half to five times greater than in most of the racing world.” Apparently, the US is terrible at regulating the drugs that get pumped into these horses. I don't know how you can read all of this and make sense of any of it. I know that our sports are unkind and often dangerous to humans who play them. We talk about that all the time on this podcast but involving and killing horses seems particularly cruel. 10 horses a week on average. I want to burn this.
Lindsay: A very different turn here. This week on Friday afternoon, the House of Representatives passed the Equality Act, which was a historic bill written to guarantee nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people at the federal level. It did pass through the house with a vote of 236 to 173. It will go to the Senate where it is not expected to pass but there will be debate and if it's anything like the debate that was going on in the House during the hearing before the vote, it is going to be ugly, ugly, ugly. What I want to particularly burn is the way that opponents to this bill, all Republicans, were using a feigned concern for the future of women's sports in order to launch transphobic attacks against this bill.
Literally, you had representatives on the floor saying, “The threat that this bill possesses for women's sports at every level is profound.” One woman, Representative Debbie Lesko from Arizona said, “The Equality Act will eliminate - ELIMINATE - women and girls' sports by requiring that men and boys be allowed to compete in women and girls' sports.” Of course, they are not talking about “men and boys” participating in women and girls' sports. They are talking about trans women participating in women's sports. In a heartbreaking turn, which is something that we've discussed on this show in the past, Martina Navratilova's own words were used to back the denouncing of this bill.
As we know, she has been very outspoken against trans women competing in sports on the elite levels and she seems completely jaw-dropped, shocked and outraged that her words are being used to prevent all trans women and girls from participating in sports but Martina, you should have seen that coming. In the words of Democratic Representative Katie Hill from California, “I'd like to say no trans person is trying to game the system to participate in sports. That does not happen and that is a sad scare tactic that has no place on the floor of the People's House. I can't believe that we are standing here and having a man tell me what kind of protections I need in sports.” Thank you, Katie. Thank you to everyone who is fighting for this bill and burn everyone who is pretending to care about women's sports just to deny LGBTQ protections to people.
Brenda: Mine is short and unsweetened, Vadão. The coach of the Brazilian national women's team this week on May 16th he held a press conference. It's one of the first live press conferences where they announced their roster of the Women's World Cup team. In the process, he stuck his foot in his mouth about 1,000 times, showed absolutely no capacity for thinking strategically, nor any evidence that he has done any scouting whatsoever but in addition to all of that garbage, he also said that one difference between coaching men and women is that women are much harder to calm down in the locker room. Thanks a lot, leader.
Brenda: That's really inspiring. I'm sure those uber, uber, uber talented women, including the most decorated woman player of all time, Marta, loves to hear that kind of bullshit before they follow you into what's supposed to be their redemptive World Cup. I'm seething. Really, I don't even know what to say except that he should be ashamed of himself and the federation should be ashamed of themselves for appointing him and continuing to appoint him. I don't even know how to control my anger at this but he literally looked like he wasn't really sure about how to pronounce some of the newer players' names or if he got it right. He just really looked like he didn't even know what he was doing. Again, he has a really spotty record, even coaching men. His claim to fame is that he was the personal coach of Kaká, whatever. I'm throwing his-
Shireen: That's his claim to fame?
Brenda: Yeah. I mean his marginally okay record with B league men's teams but I just wanted to just throw the most recent comments on the Burn Pile and his just general apathy. I mean maybe he's great in some personal, private space that I'm not privy to but in public, this guy just sucks so I want to throw him (proverbially) on the Burn Pile.
Shireen: Hi. I'm burning “proverbially” the Board of Cricket in India, BCCI, not to be confused with the now defunct bank. What I'm going to do is just really quickly reiterate what we know, the lack of funding to support the women's teams in the India Premier League of cricket. Now, the tournament for the men has just wrapped up last week but what ended up happening, there was so little money and attention put on into the woman's team and we are talking about women like Harmanpreet Kaur, like Mithali Raj that we've talked about, that had been badass woman of the week on this show previously. These are world class top players not getting the attention from a federation. I know we always burned football federations but we are actually going to burn a cricket federation for being equally as atrocious.
Despite the fact that there's new viewers in children and women watching India's cricket, despite the fact that there's actually no fully functioning women's league in India that's consistent, unlike Australia or England, you are still have incredibly high performing, fantastic athletes. They are just not getting the attention, the support and the camaraderie that they actually deserve. There's actually this really great article I found on The Wire about this and I'll just quote it because I think this piece is really, really, really important, about what's actually happening. The overview is it's by Parth Pandya and this is for The Wire and just saying that, “Women's games are all taking steps in the right directions to break the glass ceiling to ICC tournaments.”
“The last couple of years have been a resounding success. Given the rising popularity of new age Indian superstars like Harmanpreet and Smriti Mandhana, the BCCI's lackadaisical attitude towards opening up the field so far has been quite puzzling.” Now, the article is not kind to them so I appreciate that. I really appreciate the fact that they are being called out as being an obstacle and they are stagnating the process of women's cricket in India, which is a world superpower in this sport. I want to burn federations who don't give a shit. I want to burn the lack of support that these phenomenal athletes are given and I just want to take all of that and throw it on the Burn Pile.
Brenda: Well after all of that burning and recounting of terrible things in sport, we do want to recognize and celebrate the badass women in sports this week. Honorable mentions go to the Fenerbahçe women's basketball team who won the Turkish Women's League, Kiki Bertens for winning the Madrid Open, beating Simona Halep in straight sets. Another one from tennis is Karolína Plíšková who won the Italian Open in Rome, beating Johanna Konta. There are a lot of NCAA tournaments happening right now so we want to do a hats-off to all the women competing in the golf, in tennis, in lacrosse and softball championships and that includes the Oklahoma Sooner's softball team, which now has a record winning streak of 41, including Giselle Juarez's third no-hitter of this season. Also, Pakistan women's cricket team captain and bowler phenom, Sana Mir overcame a back injury and is now the world's most successful ODI spinner.
Mir has seven four-wicket hauls in ODI cricket and her spinning in the ICC T20 Women's World Cup in 2018, was voted Play of the Tournament. Also we cannot not mention Formiga, called up for a record setting, seventh World Cup appearance on the Brazilian national women's soccer team. And can I get a drum roll? We can do this. Come on.
Badass women of the week go to Champion League winners, Olympique Lyonnais. Yay! They beat Barcelona 4-1. Happy 30th birthday to Eugénie Le Sommer who turned 30 on the day of her Champions League win but most especially, we have to say Ada Hegerberg with a huge hat trick and a big fuck you to FIFA's Women's World Cup.
What's good? Now, in the times of darkness and challenges we want to ruminate a little bit on what's good and recognize that this month is also Mental Health Awareness Month. Although we often try to parse out what's wrong with the world, we also like to appreciate what's not. Lindsay, what's good in your world?
Lindsay: What's good is, I'm going to be really on-brand here and just say getting back last week to Washington Mystics' practice and talking with all the players just has me so excited for this WNBA season. My schedule is going to be bonkers but I feel just so lucky to be able to cover this league and I'm just super excited.
Jessica: Well definitely the WNBA starting this week is very exciting. Shout out to my therapist. I went to see her yesterday. It's been a month. So I was something to deal with yesterday but she's amazing and I feel so lucky. Then of course, I'm going to France in less than three weeks and that's where my brain is and I'm very excited. That's what's good.
Brenda: Awesome. Shireen?
Shireen: I got Adidas sneakers as a belated Mother's Day gift and I love them. They actually match Josh Nadel's sneakers and speaking of which, New York, which was incredible to be able to hold Brenda's hand while during a hot take was wonderful. I wish I could hold all of your hands and you know I sincerely mean this. My third guy, Salahaddin is actually in Regina, Saskatchewan this weekend for nationals for volleyball. I miss him and he's not leaving me enough voice notes but that's okay.
I also just want to say what made me happy was Pep Guardiola's props to the Man City women's team in a presser because as of yesterday, the Manchester City men's side wanted trouble. They won three major tournaments. Someone in the press forwards that to him afterwards. This is the first time. He goes, “No. It's the first time for the men. The women have already done it.” He basically pulled an Andy Murray and that was really unexpected because it doesn't happen in the world and football. Hats off to Pep and that made me really happy.
Brenda: Cool. I have to just piggyback off of Shireen's recollection of this past week in New York. The NYU Institute for Public Knowledge brought Shireen and myself and also Josh Nadel, who I wrote the book, Futbolera with, which is out this week.
Jessica: Oh my God.
Brenda: This week and that is super great.
Jessica: That's great! That sounds great in our world.
Brenda: I had not seen Josh since we wrote the book. We didn't see each other the entire time we wrote a book. He moved to Greece and I was in Argentina and life was crazy and it was really wonderful to be able to present with him. On top of that, Shireen holding my hand is always perfect. Stephanie Yang, a friend of the show, who we've interviewed and had on here, I had never met in person. She doesn't like a whole lot of public attention but to too bad, Stephanie. You are awesome. Amira.
Amira: What's good in my world? It is, as of right now, as of recording, two days till Gemini season, which means when this drops we will be in the best time of the year. There are 15 days until my birthday so that is very exciting. Anyways, my real what's good is that Samari had her district wide track meet and it's like 10 elementary schools jumped onto the high school track. She repeated her title in the 100 meter and the four by one and also picked up second in the 50 meter and it's just such a joy to watch her run. Since she had been fighting with me since birth about sports, every time she would play softball or soccer, whatever, she would just be doing dance moves in the field and I was just like, “How? Why is this happening to me?” Track is the sport that she really likes and she's really, really good at and so that's been giving me absolute life this week and that is my what's good.
Brenda: Aw. Go Samari, go! We are all excited.
That's it for this week in Burn It All Down. Although we are done for now, you can always burn day and night with our fabulous array of merchandising. We want to remind you to visit our Teespring store, teespring.com/stores/burn-it-all-down. Burn It All down lives on SoundCloud. It can be found on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play and TuneIn. We appreciate your reviews and feedback. We really do consider all of your comments and suggestions. Please subscribe and rate. Let us know what we did well and how we can improve. You can also find us on Facebook and Instagram at Burn It All Down Pod and on Twitter, @BurnItDownPod and you can email us at email@example.com. Check out our website, www burnitalldownpod.com. There we have previous episodes, transcripts and a link to our Patreon. Once again, we appreciate those who have subscribed and will subscribe. I'm Brenda Elsey. On behalf of the entire Burn It All Down crew, burn on but not out.