Episode 113: Colonialism and race at the Women’s World Cup, WWC takeaways, and Jennifer Doyle on VAR
On this week’s show, Shireen, Brenda, Amira, and Jessica talk about what other sports than the Women’s World Cup they are watching. [6:40] Then the gang discusses the intersection of women’s soccer, colonialism, race, and racism at the WWC. [24:11] Brenda interview Dr. Jennifer Doyle about Video Assistant Referees (VAR) and the gender politics of it all. [45:02] And they talk about their takeaways, so far, from the WWC. [57:49]
Of course, you’ll hear the Burn Pile, [1:07:40] our Bad Ass Woman of the Week, starring Megan Rapinoe [1:10:17] and what is good in our worlds. [1:16:00]
France, the World Cup’s last standing ‘African’ team: https://theundefeated.com/features/france-2018-fifa-world-cup-last-standing-african-team/
Ellen Wille, the mother of women’s football: https://www.france24.com/en/20190626-ellen-wille-mother-women-football-norway-fifa-world-cup-france
The racism I encountered in France felt all too familiar: https://www.sbnation.com/soccer/2019/6/25/18744091/world-cup-racism-in-france-just-like-they-make-it-at-home
For broadcasters, Women’s World Cup rallies record audiences with an event and a cause: https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/2019/06/27/womens-world-cup-ratings-record-audiences-thrill-broadcasters/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.e021a4cc58a6
Sweden stuns Germany at Women's World Cup as Dutch reach maiden semifinal: https://edition.cnn.com/2019/06/29/football/italy-netherlands-germany-sweden-womens-world-cup-quarterfinals-spt-intl/index.html
A Pivotal Women's World Cup Match For The United States Is An Even Bigger Deal For France: https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/entry/france-uswnt-womens-world-cup_n_5d162181e4b07f6ca57c419d
Amr Warda returns to Egypt squad after intervention of senior players: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2019/jun/28/amr-warda-egypt-afcon-mohamed-salah-returns-squad-intervention
Africa Cup of Nations: Mo Salah defends player accused of harassment: https://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-trending-48799115
103-year-old runner Julia 'Hurricane' Hawkins on bikes, her bucket list and the Brooklyn Bridge: http://www.espn.com/espnw/culture/article/27073873/103-year-old-runner-julia-hurricane-hawkins-bikes-bucket-list-brooklyn-bridge
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 our show features smarty pants Dr. Amira Rose Davis, assistant Professor of History and African American Studies at Penn State. The unflappable Jessica Luther, independent journalist, weightlifter, and baker in Austin, Texas, and the fierce Shireen Ahmed, freelancer, activist, and the world's most snuggliest person in Toronto, Canada.
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On this week's show, surprise surprise! We're going to talk the Women's World Cup 2019.
Brenda: We also interviewed Professor Jen Doyle. She's going to talk to us about the VAR and what the politics are of a lot of men in a lot of women referees heads, head sets. But before all that, I want to ask my co-hosts what they’re paying attention to, if anything, besides the Women's World Cup.
Amira: There's other things happening?
Jessica: I know.
Brenda: I want to start by asking Jessica. When I read the news that maybe Serena Williams will pair up with Andy Murray for Wimbledon? Did you catch that?
Jessica: Oh my gosh. Well, not until you said anything because I have been in a Women's World Cup cave! I know I talk about it all the time, but I really do love Lindsay's, when she does The IX, she does Tennis Tuesdays. When I was read on Tuesday, she had a line in there that Wimbledon was starting in 5 days. I texted her in all caps, WIMBLEDON IS STARTING IN 5 DAYS?! Who has time for this? Y'all know. I love tennis so much. The fact that it was completely off my radar is just such a good indication of where my brain has been as far as Women's World Cup and the focus on that.
Yeah, so today I saw that both Andy Murray and Serena and Serena's coach have put out the idea that maybe they would play mixed doubles, which is just like, don't tease man. Don't tease if you're not going to come through for this! I feel like I'll cry. I love them both so much. It's really fun that he is back at all. That's he's able to play. He had hip surgery, I think, maybe 5 months ago. He talked when he was in Australia, we talked about this, that he will likely retire very soon. He's been one of my favorite players for a long time. He's the feminist of the men that play tennis professionally. That would just be really, really amazing and lovely to see the two of them on the court together, especially at this point in their careers. That would just be fun.
Brenda: Shireen, have you been able to ... How are you functioning?
Shireen: Well, I'm just, I'm getting distracted by AFCON, the Cup of Nations, but for not all the glorious reasons that I would normally like. I'm also tremendously enjoying Jessica being completely consumed by women's football. I really love this. I really, really love it. Andy Murray and Serena Williams is like a gift from the universe. Very soon following Megan Rapinoe's gifts up to the universe. It's this like beautiful continuation of things that we deserve. Andy Murray and Serena Williams is like, what better thing to happen other than Burn It All Down in the world of sports, than Andy Murray and Serena Williams. I'm not even like a tennis person, but I will watch that!
Brenda: I will watch that. I will so watch that.
Jessica: It will be like the biggest audience for mixed doubles ever, I want to say.
Shireen: Yeah, for sure.
Brenda: Which would be awesome! Which would be awesome because I've longed believed in instituting a mixed category for football, soccer.
Jessica: It's so fun. Doubles is so fun.
Brenda: It is so fun.
Shireen: But also, I really appreciate Serena's openness to this. She's so positive. Like, with Federer, she's like buddy buddy, then her being open to play with Andy Murray. The way she's just like, “I'm available.” I'm like, you're Serena Williams! You're just so casual about how great you are. You know what I mean? It's just, I would love to see Andy Murray bow to her, that's what I want to see happen, but we never know.
Brenda: Amira, how you doing?
Amira: Good. You know, I'm mostly not all caring about anything else, but I also wanted to take a second to give a shout out to Coco Gauff while we're talking about Wimbledon. If you don't know her name, write it down to definitely keep your eye on. She's a teenage phenom. A black girl from Florida. At 15, she just became the youngest person to qualify for Wimbledon. There's been other teenagers who have qualified via direct entry, but she qualified on the court by winning one of the preliminary draws, 6-1, 6-1. A victory that she did in under an hour. She's absolutely phenomenal to watch. I wanted to put her on everybody’s radar, Coco Gauff.
Jessica: I think she's playing Venus.
Amira: I think so, too.
Jessica: In the first round. You'll definitely be able to see it on TV.
Amira: Exactly. And you know they're going to have a lot of narratives and storylines about that.
Jessica: Well yeah, yes. She's credited the Williams sisters.
Amira: Exactly. It should be very compelling, but she's definitely somebody to keep your eye on. We've talked about her before as an honorary shout out for badass women of the week, because she's phenomenal. I saw that and I was excited, but also, it's just like soccer 100% around here.
Brenda: Shireen, wrap it up.
Shireen: Yeah, there's the men's World Cup of cricket happening, and apologies to flamethrowers that are really into cricket beyond my uncle sitting there and swearing in multiple languages as Pakistan plays. I really haven't been watching any of it. I'm sure it's great and energizing and emotional and frustrating for everybody as cricket always is, but the women are playing football, so, take a backseat, boys.
Brenda: As much as we've loved the Women's World Cup, there has been some troubling, there have been some troubling sorts of themes for us. One thing we wanted to delve into with a lot of care and gravity is the issue of colonialism and race in this Women's World Cup. Amira, do you want to get the conversation started?
Amira: Certainly. We've been talking about this in bits and pieces over the last few weeks as we've done our preview show, and as we've just kind of kept updated with the Cup as it's gone on, but we really thought it was important to kind of bring these pieces together and have the conversation itself. I've talked in the past about the way commentators seemingly use ideas about “pace and power” when they're talking about African teams in particular. We've talked about the idea that cards, the matches are refereed, but it’s different what looks physical when a black player does it, it looks different. Brenda last week had a terrific burn where she talked about the way in which hailing, say, France for it's diverse team, or as the last African team standing, actually obfuscates the way that teams from the global South are not represented in the quarter finals or the semis. Indeed, we're here facing a quarter finals and of course then the semis that were just European dominated as well as the United States.
I think the last part of that, too, is even as, say, me and Jermaine jest on Twitter about diaspora power and we look for like the two or three black women on each squad, I jokingly made like the all-diaspora squad pulling the 5 women from the US, pairing with basically half of France's roster, and then the 2 or 3 women from the Netherlands, Switzerland, et cetera, to make an all-diaspora squad. We wanted to have a very real conversation about what it means to search for representation in this way, and how identifying women of color and people of color on these teams also can helps us lose sight of the fact that colonization is setting the entire terms for this discussion.
The black women participating on teams in France, right, come from colonial spaces. They come from Martinique, like Renard. If you read her very powerful essay in the Player's Tribune where she talks about football at the end of the world, she talks about growing up on Martinique and trying to make it to France. Martinique is an overseas department, which is the fancy way of saying a colony. It's the same way Bermuda is the overseas department of Britain, right. What does colonization look like now, in how it's influenced the development of the game, and how it's influenced the women who play the game and find themselves moving from the colonies to the métropole, or just existing in places around the globe, like Janogy who plays for Sweden who's dad's from Mali. What does it look like to trace the diaspora like this but trace it with a very real explicit conversation about how it was, in many ways, shaped by empire, and by colonization, and often by blood.
That is the terms of the discussion that we kind of wanted to have. Brenda, I actually want to toss it back to you so that we can further unpack the eloquent burn that you made last week. Here we are again, with a semifinals that's European dominated, and France just made their exit. Certainly people are still looking for diaspora power wherever they can get it. Can we expand upon that conversation a little bit more? What does it mean, yet again, for the global south to be on the periphery of the finals in the semis?
Brenda: Bums me out. Makes me so upset. You just hate to see it come down to money, right? You hate to see it come down to power and it's something that I predicted, that we all predicted, would happen, that we'd find the lineups looking like this. I do think it's upsetting and I think it's important, obviously diversity, but I think it's very important to understand the difference between diversity in terms of, this happens in the US, for example. If you want to make a minority hire, frequently, people fill those spots with internationals who happen to be white. Right? Which doesn't sort of further diversify in the way that it's intended to. These things work in a lot of interesting ways that international versus homegrown diversity and what that means in terms of colonialism. I go back to it where if the federations are going to tout the diversity of their teams based upon the diasporic history, give them all passports. Give them all, you know what I'm saying? Give every postcolonial place passports then. If you're going to claim it as this real thing that you really care about and has a real connection with the métropole, you know, before you do stuff like that, then you have to kind of like come to some terms with what your past is. The bloody, bloody, terrible violent history of colonialism cannot just skip ahead to yay, yay, they play football for us now.
Brenda: I just find it so jarring.
Amira: Especially because FIFA's thing for this World Cup is living diversity. I don't know if you've seen these really rather cringy videos, especially when Germany was playing Sweden. It makes me laugh. I'm sorry. It makes me laugh. There's a video that they put out right before kickoff of Germany and Sweden where they have two representatives from the team and both in Swedish and German, they're saying these words about how we respect everybody on the pitch. We're not for discrimination, all the language we're used to. Then it's like we are living diversity. It's like, with Šašić off the German team, it's completely white. On the Swedish side, you have Janogy, whose dad is from Mali, and then that's it. It just feels, it's just a very strange feeling.
It's interesting, France I think, is really interesting. I study this historically in terms of the way that France uses sports in their kind of postcolonial moment. One of the things you see over the course of the 1950s and '60s, when you have a massive upheaval of independent African nation states, Latin American, people getting independence in the Caribbean. This is a time in which independent countries are popping up. It's also in the middle of the Cold War in both the United States and the Soviet Union, are glancing at places in Latin America and continental Africa and the Caribbean, to try to exert their power to try to get these newly formed countries to kind of go their way.
You also have former colonies trying to figure out what their relationship is going to be with these colonial spaces, and France is really interesting because they decide they're going to try to be friends and they're going to foster a relationship particularly through athletics where they host friendship games and they have these joint matches in West Africa in Senegal and they're going to foster these kind of pipelines from Martinique in reunion to France.
Shireen, I would love if you would talk a little bit about your relationship to the French team, but also how you see diversity and colonization playing out on that team in particular.
Shireen: Thanks, Amira. This is something that's like particular to football that I've carried and studied and thought about, particularly with regards to France, because the whole idea that diversity and what does it mean. When we talk about post-colonial stuff, we're talking about racialized diversity. Looking at that Germany Sweden match, where oh, this is a testament adversity, what happens is people conflate racialized diversity with other types of diversity in terms of gender or in terms of sexual orientation. What ends up happening is that you get massive heaps of white feminism coming in here where those two things, gender or sexual orientation, will overtake the idea of racialized diversity. I mean how often have we seen that issues of women, quote unquote, overtake and speak over issues of racialized women. It happens to me and I know it happens to Amira and it happens in spaces, it's happened on this podcast previously.
I think that it's really important to keep that in mind. When we were talking about diversity, it's become sort of this word that is it's open-ended. For me, being a racialized woman, it means something completely different than it would to somebody else. In terms of France, and in terms of when we look at what football is historically. When we look at ... Jessica and I, when we were in Paris, we went to the Institut du monde arabe and they had this beautiful, beautiful exhibit on football in the Arab world. Now, yes, I had issues with the fact that there was very little and I was griping the whole time, but then I saw a Zizou video, so I was like, okay.
The idea that football has, in fact, particularly in relation to France, been a way to resist, to disrupt. You look at FLN in Algeria and how Rachid Mekhloufi left in the '60s. He left the French National Team overnight to go play with Algeria. The letters are actually there in the exhibit and it's fascinating. We don't see this level of discussion in women's football. We don't talk about the issues of racialized or diasporic issues because we're still so hellbent on oh well, they're women, must even get attention for the women's games. We're not even at a point yet to talk about that in France. This is something, this is why there's very little discussion of hijab on the pitch in France, even though France is hosting the Women's World Cup. This is going to forever be the bane of my existence.
Now, when we talk about diversity, et cetera, we talk and Amira has this beautiful setup that she's done. Sara Gama, Italy. We can talk about Lineth Beerensteyn of the Netherlands and Shanice van de Sanden. That's it. It's almost like having these two figures here say, oh, we've got our diversity. It doesn't actually work like that. When the USA becomes one of the rosters with more women that are from racialized communities, then it becomes an issue for me. USA cannot be the bar.
Brenda: Yeah. I think that's saying a lot at this point. Jess?
Jessica: Oh, I'm just listening. This is one of my favorite things is like when you guys are going on, I just get caught off guard.
Brenda: I'm sorry. You wrote this great piece this week on France, so I didn't want to forget it.
Shireen: Oh, you did. Yeah.
Jessica: Yeah, thank you. That piece is interesting because it was originally, I was going to try to write something about the diversity of the French team. It's actually difficult to talk about because France, the French have such a different way that they talk about race. They actually, I was told they use the ethnicity instead of race. They way that colonialism comes into that conversation, but it was too hard to do because they just don't talk about the women's team in general. It was one of those things where there's not enough a conversation about the women's team that they don't even have a real conversation around issues of diversity and certainly not one of colonialism with the team.
I did want to say, I don't have much to add. That was all so good and brilliant. When I was there, and Shireen and Brenda can both attest to this, it was something to go to these matches and watch ... I'm sure that this comes across on the TV, but like I really just felt it in person, and Amira brought this up at the very beginning, that it did feel ... It's interesting. I don't know. I don't have the right language, I feel. When you're watching these almost all white teams play against teams predominantly of color, if not completely of color, I kept saying someone needs to write about the difference in the reffing between the two teams and how they do penalties and how, but in a real smart way, in a way that takes into account that the teams with less resources play differently a lot of the time, and that they often are frustrated and they're working against things that end up coming out in what penalties are given, right, and what that must be like to be down on the pitch and to experience that.
I'll say, when I went to the Netherlands verse Cameroon, it's just so ... I'm sorry. I should have looked her name up. Number 7 for Cameroon. She ended up scoring the only goal and she was one of their superstars.
Shireen: Ajara Nchout? Is that who you're talking about? Ajara Nchout?
Jessica: Yeah, I think so. There was a whole thing, I didn't really see it. Maybe people saw it on television. She pushed, like a Dutch player tried to give her water at some point and she liked flipped the water bottle up into the air out of the woman's hand. This was early in the match. Then the dutch fans, and there were so many of them because we were in Valenciennes, we're only a hundred miles away from the Netherlands. They're also just famously incredibly supportive of their women's team. They booed her so hard for the rest of the match. Then they would cheer when she would go down, which that was the one that really got me. That they wanted her to be injured almost. You just felt it in the stadium. It was such a white crowd cheering on a very predominantly white team against an all black team. It felt so uncomfortable.
We could talk forever about what happened with England and Cameroon. I just kept thinking like the last time those women were in that stadium, that was what they experienced. I'm not here to defend the behavior that she had with the water bottle, or whatever, but it was so excessive. It made me feel bad. I don't have, again, good language for it, but just thinking about how all those things are working themselves out on the pitch. I'm sorry. I'm rambling at this point. I just kept thinking about what it must be like to play in that dynamic and it just felt really bad at that game.
Shireen: I think one of the things, just to touch on what Jess is saying here about wanting someone to write about it intelligently, I really don't know. Maybe definitely someone from Burn It All Down, but I think the idea that the fairness, we take for granted, privilege on the pitch is very important. Racialized privilege on the pitch is a real thing. I've played soccer for over 30 years. I know this. I've felt it. I've been discriminated against. The first time I was racially abused was on the pitch and the call did not go in my favor, let's just put it that way. The idea that people don't recognize that is very problematic to me. We've seen journalists say well, my assessment and analysis of England versus Cameroon wasn't based on race, but they're all white people saying this, which is the bane of my existence, and something that Amira burned last week is a coded ... It's not even coded. The language used.
This idea, it's very rich and it's very important but I really don't know a lot of spaces where it could exist. One quick thing, because I know we have to wrap up, was just the idea that Nadeshiko, Japan, being the only racialized team left, and the pressure on them to have to account for the diversity piece of the puzzle. They can't just be footballers from a nation that loves football, they would have accounted for that. There in is another conversation about in addition to being footballers, in addition to wanting to win the World Cup, you're also having to represent an ethnicity, a community, a culture, on the world stage so football can make itself feel better and say look how diverse we are when we know that's not the case.
Amira: Certainly, and just to wrap up, I think what's really important when we talk about this is also not to lose sight of settler colonialism. Also, when we're looking at these teams, particularly from Canada, United States, Australia, is to understand the absence of indigenous people on the team as another indictment of a different form, but just as insidious form of colonization, and rendering those groups invisible is continuing the work of settler colonization in a way that I think we also, it would be very interesting to pair that in a longer, bigger, of course, more in-depth conversation that we're always striving to have. It never seems like there's enough time to truly unpack all of this, but I hope that that was a space where we could at least start getting some of these things out there together and in a little bit more depth.
Brenda: Next, I sat down with professor Jennifer Doyle from the English department at UC Riverside who's written extensively on sport at thesportspectacle.com and talked with us about her work on VAR.
This week, I have the honor of sitting down with professor Jennifer Doyle who we are big fans of at Burn It All Down. She has written loads of books, including Campus Sex/Campus Security, Hold It Against Me: Difficulty and Emotion in Contemporary Art, and Sex Objects: Art and the Dialectics of Desire. But for sports fans and critical sports fans, you may know her best from her original blog From a Left Wing, and right now she is writing at thesportspectacle.com, which is a brilliant blog. I suggest if you don't follow her, she's @FromALeftWing on Twitter and her commentary is amazing. Jennifer Doyle, welcome to Burn It All Down.
Jennifer: Thank you for having me on. I'm so excited.
Brenda: We are so excited! This week, I could ask you a million things about the Women's World Cup, millions, and I want to ask them all, but this week you wrote a really brilliant piece called the voices in her head about VAR, V-A-R, and the use of it in the Women's World Cup. Can I just start by asking you what made you, what was the impetus for writing this piece?
Jennifer: Like a lot of people, I've been struck by how much, at least up to this point in the tournament, VAR has interfered with our pleasure, right, as spectators. The game feels interrupted with these long, weird breaks where when you're in the stadium, you have no idea what's going on. Even if you're watching on television, it's just like a totally interruption of the flow of the game. Then it's had this very powerful affect, I think, of undermining players and the spectators confidence in the refereeing, which I think is the opposite effect of what was intended. These were just impressions of mine, and so I wanted to learn more about how VAR works, where women figure in it, because someone had, I saw on Twitter a reference to the gender of the video assistant referees at the list of 15 video assistant referees initially published by FIFA when they were announcing the referee team for the tournament was all men. That blew my mind because FIFA actually has a really regressive policy of gender segregating the referees in the tournament so men referee men, women referee women with the exception of VAR's video assistant referees. I just wanted to learn a little bit more about that and so that's the starting place for writing the article.
Brenda: It's been, I mean, on social media, on the commentary among the players, it's been one of the huge stories of the tournament. On Burn It All Down, we had a debate where I sort of defended VAR, I mean to the extent I could. Not the fact that they use the tournament as a guinea pig for doing it. I had originally thought, and I'm not confident about this argument so I want to ask you. I had originally thought it would be an opportunity for teams that were less prominent in the game to get some of the calls that may have been swayed against them.
Jennifer: Yeah, and it seems to have had the opposite effect.
Jennifer: Yeah. Let me just say, one of the things. There's a few things that VAR, when you start digging into how it works, that have particular significance for the women's game. One is that the men who are working as video assistant referees, as far as I can tell, and I would love to be wrong about this, they don't have a history of working at this level in the women's game, precisely because FIFA's gender segregation practice and refereeing prohibits that. They would have no experience refereeing in women's tournaments, and likewise, women would have no experience refereeing in men's tournaments that are governed within FIFA. Of course, many of the women who are working as referees within the World Cup actually having experience working in men's leagues in their home countries, like in France, or in England, or example. There are definitely women working the tournament who work for the premiership or Ligue 1 here.
I find myself wondering, does this make a difference? One of the things, this is just about optics. I have, again, no idea. This is totally kind of a literary critic speculating on the dynamics that are unfolding. In the sense that these men reviewing in essence all the decisions that women are making on the field, and these women working the match with these voices in their heads. With these voices actually coming from this VAR room being all male kind of actually presenting themselves as a kind of patriarchal authority to whom they, in essence, check. There's a sense that like, was that handball the right call? Was that ball out of line? Of course, it's not the actual on field referees who are initiating that questioning. It's more that the VAR referees are coming in on the decision making process.
Anyway, I just was kind of curious about the gender dynamics of that and the impact that that might be having on the game. I thought that I was maybe taking things a little too far, but then there was this 90 minute debriefing which is a tournament, every World Cup, there's a refereeing debrief, and it's held at about this stage. You get this picture from the referees where they ... Collina who's the chair of the FIFA's committee for refereeing. He was giving an overview of the controversies, and how they think about it, and how VAR was working. It was like the message from his was it's all good and fine. Actually, since that press conference, there has not been one single use of VAR, which leads me to think actually that something was really going very wrong.
Brenda: I mean, it's been so notable since we've gotten into the knockout stages, right?
Jennifer: The US, there was a handball that the referee waved off, which certainly looks, I think, for a lot of people, and certainly in France, there's a sense that that was actually an unfair decision. On the one hand, I want to say the referee made the right call. But I think without a doubt, I feel very confident that had this match been played a week ago, that they would have had a VAR review of it, and likely the referee's decision would have been overturned.
Brenda: We're talking about the call that came off of O'Hara's arm?
Jennifer: Yeah. Again, I think the referee made that right decision, but I think the referee's were also making reasonable decisions that were not by any standard “clear and obvious errors,” which is supposed to be the standard by which VAR overturns these decisions. Something clearly was change. I think they really did feel, I do think at some moment there had to have been a reckoning with the impact that this was having on the outcome of the match, but then also on the sense of fairness within the game.
Brenda: You saw FIFA sort of turn around about the goalkeeping fouls. Right? Could you tell listeners a little bit about that?
Jennifer: There have been these series of adjustments that were made and in essence, the rules of the game issues by IFAB which is a panel of administrators who set the rules for the game every year. There was this sense, in essence, that goalkeepers were encroaching on those who were taking penalty kicks. They came up with this kind of ... It's not that they created a new rule, it's just that they introduced a use of VAR in order to make sure that referees were enforcing a rule, which was that the goalkeepers were actually not leaving their line until the ball was kicked. They had made that rule a little bit more, I think, articulated by making ... A requirement is that the goalkeeper has to have one foot still on their line when the ball is kicked.
The rule itself actually sounds kind of reasonable to me. I actually don't have much of a problem with that. It's just the way that VAR is sort of being used in that context. I'll say even from my perspective, I don't have that big of an issue with VAR being used in this particular context. Although, what I do find confusing was that that was a decision that sent Nigeria out, right? Where Renard, who I love, was taking a penalty and she hit the crossbar, but that penalty was retaken because VAR, the video assistant referee, found that the Nigerian keeper had left her line early. They allowed Renard to take the penalty again and of course, that basically finished off Nigeria.
I don't think it's making things more clear. I think if anything, it's actually doing the opposite.
Brenda: Right. It seems to me without any kind of previous experience with this, it's really ended up stacking the chips against players who have less professional opportunities, or perhaps haven't been ever even introduced to it before.
Jennifer: I could take this in another direction, too, which is, this is kind of a black helicopter narrative, I'm going to say, right, but it struck me watching this and also watching the FIFA debrief about how VAR works that if I was going to try to fix a match, I would go after the video assistant referee room. Because you can take, anyone who followed the OJ Simpson trial for example, or sorry, Americans, especially those of us who say, for example, work in American studies an media studies and think critically about photography and video, we know all too well the degree to which photographic evidence can, in essence, be decontextualized and made to signify in almost any direction, right?
The lesson for us in this was the trial of the police officers who beat Rodney King, whereby photographs of Rodney King on the ground being kicked and beaten become evidence of how threatening he was. That's a really powerful lesson sort of embedded in that story and it seems kind of strange to invoke that in relationship to soccer. I admit, it is to a certain degree. As somebody who teachers visual studies classes, I found myself thinking about some of the decisions and the calls that were being described in that press debriefing really evidence actually, the degree to which the sense of what is clear and obvious becomes a very political, very contingent, very subjective, the closer you look at photographic evidence.
For example, Collina was reviewing the buildup in the attack on goal before the handball that was called against a Japanese defender, and the ball had actually looked like it had gone out actually before they even struck at the goal. He went over this and he was showing these photographs of the ball being in essence kind of brought down the line, and on the attacking right. It seemed to go over the line, it seemed to be out. Then he had this whole long explanation for why it wasn't out. He couldn't show this on the video screen, he was showing it on his phone and then he was basically you have to take my word for it. If that ball, if the video assistant referee had said, well this ball had actually gone out before they even attacked the goal, the handball wouldn't have been relevant.
The whole thing was meant from his part to show how great VAR is, but I came away from that feeling like it's totally random, who decides to pay how much attention to what moment of the game, right where there's a call that feels somewhat marginal.
Brenda: Yeah. I will never understand how there wasn't the offsides in Australia Brazil when that ball was intended for Sam Kerr who is in no way not a forward.
Jennifer: There's so many moments.
Brenda: There's so many moments. I'm not sure what the future will be, but I love your sort of focus and analysis in that piece on the optics of it. I just wanted to switch for a little bit because I have you and you're in France and it's so exciting. It is Pride Month and I wanted to ask you how you felt about the optics of Rapinoe over the last week and her very public sparring with the president of the US.
Jennifer: To put that in perspective, that's partly drawn from statements that she's made over time. These are not new declarations. This is not some startling turn in Rapinoe's politics.
Jennifer: She's been absolutely consistent for as long as any of us have been following her. Gwendolyn Oxenham's article about her brother struggles with addiction, his incarceration, their closeness, will shed some light on her position as a very strong critic of the prison industrial complex with somebody who had really direct awareness of its toxicity. This is not new, but of course, with all the media attention on this game and with her prominence as a player on the team, and then also with the team's confidence in her, she's sort of basically in a position where this has to be a part of her news story.
I've been loving it. To be honest, I was actually kind of rooting for France.
Brenda: I think that happened to so many of us that it is was like, I found myself rooting for the US women's team, which is not common in me.
Jennifer: It's not that I don't support the US Women's National team, it's just that I know how much was riding on this for France, for women players here. I'm lucky enough to spend my summer's outside of Montpellier, which has a history prior to Lyon's dominance as a home for woman's football in the country. The Montpellier club was really the side that was leading the way. I know that with teams like this, this is true for England playing the US, that there's a sense that a victory is going to mean so much. Not just for the team but for the entire sport in their country. So many sides playing the US and playing European teams are actually facing that kind of pressure.
Anyway, I also love the way France plays. They play a very smart, technical, interesting game. Incredible defenders. I've always got my eye on defense. Wendie Renard is one of my favorite players. Rapinoe’s public presence, her skill as a player, her persona, it's just hard not to love her. I was thrilled by the way they played. I couldn't have been happier about the fact that she scored the two goals. I loved that in the debrief, the pre-match press conference, Rapinoe represented the US players, as she should. The US national team has shown absolutely confidence in her ability to represent the whole team. I think that says a lot, actually about where the team is at. I found myself like encouraged about the future of our country…
Brenda: The grasping at straws stage of like ... I know.
Brenda: What about the optics of her goal celebration? What about the visual of that? She has a really unique sort of approach to that. With that second goal, first she sort of does her, I always call it like a gymnastics ta-da finish.
Brenda: She just sort of has this really stationary pose that she does.
Jennifer: I assume she's facing the friends and family and fans, I'm assuming that actually opening her arms to the supporters in that moment and also claiming a kind of leadership position in relationship to the team and in the team, when I say that word, I want to include the supporters in that. It's a captain kind of pose. It's like she's captain of her ship in front of the whole wide world.
Of course, that has kind of a resonance with the, I don't know, just like a part of me that is just like it's such a almost cringe-inducing sort of American gesture of a certain sort of command over the world, but at the same time, I couldn't love it more coming from Megan Rapinoe and also in this context. I think she's just declaring herself a winner.
Brenda: Did she scream go gays?-
Jennifer: In the match, I don't know.
Brenda: That second goal.
Jennifer: I don't know. I'm probably watching this in France so I'm sort of seeing this kind of refracted through French media.
Jennifer: My understanding was that after the game, she was asked to comment in essence as a gay player on the cusp of Pride in Paris I think was the next day, right? Right where we'll also at the 50th anniversary of Stonewall. This is a massive moment. She's also herself been in a very strong ... She's kind of walked into and embraced her role, I'd say, representing gay, lesbian, trans, queer athletes. She did make comments to the press. My favorite one was the one where she said there's never been a winning team that hasn't included gay players. I'm not getting it word for word, but she said basically that. Then punctuated with, "That's just science." Part of me, I'm pretty confident that half the people reading that don't quite get what the observation that's embedded in that, which is that every team, every team in the World Cup includes gay players. That's a statement that I'm hearing.
Brenda: If we could only get a male player to admit the scientific evidence as well. If they could only feel so charged and safe saying that.
Jennifer: She just reminds me, I think, for a lot of us who are, you know, I'm a 50-something professor, she just reminds me of our smartest most awesome students. The people in whom we're all too eager to just invest our faith in the future and that things are going to be okay. It's too much to put on the shoulders of one athletic figure, but she seems to be willing to carry that weight right now.
Brenda: Yeah. She seems absolutely capable of doing it at least over the last week. Just one last question then. Looking at this tournament, going forward, just briefly. What are the things you're going to keep your eyes on in terms of stories for the end of the tournament?
Jennifer: There's a part of me that's like the political stories, the big picture. Already we're kind of grinding down to the usual suspects in the tournament. That happens certainly in the men's game, but in the women's game, that has a terrible resonance so far as we just saw Italy leave today. Their story in the tournament was so huge. It's so much talent on that side. You can see with just like a relatively short history of serious investment in the game how much a difference that's made. The closer you follow the game, you see how little it actually takes really. Not to minimize what it takes to bring people to that level, but just how little women have been given in so many different national setups, and seeing teams leave the tournament, you know that a big part of the reason why they're leaving the tournament when they're leaving the tournament is the lack of support from their federations. It's just demoralizing as someone who's been following women's soccer for a few years now to see that happen over and over again. Although I think we're getting closer and closer, obviously, with France, for example, being a great example of that and also England.
I'm keeping my eye open. I think right now my heart is with England. Partly for just, again, having a sense of how the historical importance of their just even presence in the final would be, nevermind winning the whole thing. Then in terms of the play and the technical side of it, defense, defense, defense. It's all about defense.
Brenda: Well, Jennifer Doyle. I hope this isn't the last time you're on Burn It All Down. Thank you so much for joining us this week.
Jennifer: Thank you for having me on.
Brenda: We don't want to leave the Women's World Cup quite yet this episode. We thought we might discuss some of the big takeaways or stories thus far as we're done with many of the stages and teams that we've loved. Shireen?
Shireen: First and foremost, I'm going to start with something that is a bit intense and I feel strongly about. I believe in the chicken dance.
Brenda: I know. Good lord. Good lord.
Shireen: I know.
Brenda: What has happened?
Shireen: Hear me out here. I know this is a bit of a hot take, however, Macarena, fine, it’s cliché, it's a little tacky, but the chicken dance is so instrumental in our elementary learning. I literally could show my stuff in gym class because I had the best, I did the best fucking chicken dance this side of wherever. I'm okay with it. The fact that Ettie is the mascot, you see the connection. I'm not saying I love the local organizing committee. I don't love the LOC obviously because they're a product of the FFF and you know how I feel about that. However, don't come after the chicken dance. Just don't do it. Just don't. Yes, the fact that after all these discussions on VAR and post colonialism, colonialism, and racism, and sexism, and misogyny. The fact that I have to think about the chicken dance, that's okay. I'm not going to apologize for my heightened awareness of the ...
Brenda: How do the chickens feel?
Shireen: I did not ask them and I'm a bit worried, Brenda, because you're a vegetarian. I'm just going to say that. I'm also, the ambiance. The best wave that I've ever been in, and I've been in an okay number of events, wasn't Parc des Princes. I'm going to say the takeaways. I love that the fan…
Jessica: They love the wave there.
Shireen: They love the wave. It was an exceptional wave. Was it three rounds, Jess? We did three rounds.
Jessica: When it ends, they always boo. It could go for 12 minutes and they still boo at the end. It was amazing.
Shireen: What I want to talk about is player experience. The one mistake, and I don't regret anything, but I did not buy a hat when I was Parc des Princes because I really wanted like a casquette, a baseball hat. I really wanted one and I was like I don't want to wait in line, I'd rather get food. Choose between food and a hat, I'm going to go with food. Then they sold out. I asked, I texted Steph and said could you get me a hat? She can't find one anywhere. Let's talk about, yeah, they're sold out. This is her take on this, and Steph's WhatsApp messages are as brilliant as her writing. We're literally like oh, FIFA. Did you underestimate the amount of people that would care? Yes. I think that the player experience is something that I'm really happy to see. I am not as irritated with the Dutch brass bands as I thought I would be. At the end of the day, do you really hate it? No. The player experience there, I'm happy for those people that are loving this World Cup because I think the supporters, we deserve it. The players deserve that love, and they're tweeting about support from their countries, which is something I haven't seen before. That's one of my takeaways. I know it's a little bit random, but that's okay.
Brenda: A little bit, Jess?
Jessica: On the pitch, the dominance of Europe and what that says and as Brenda will say, the inevitability of that, hopefully we keep talking about that because it really is, it is a bummer that that's sort of how it has ended up. I wanted to mention FIFA is on our, what did we say? It's in the incinerator?
Shireen: Eternal incinerator.
Jessica: Eternal. But really, I don't know, man. When you go there and you actually experience it, you're like yeah, they really don't care do they?
Jessica: I think that's one of the things that I will forever take away from this World Cup for me, and I know this is very personal for me because I actually got to go, but they don't seem to care. Shireen and I have talked about how in Paris you could barely tell that the World Cup was happening. When you got to the smaller cities, they were much more invested in it for lost of reasons. Shireen and I had to rent a car, which this is probably Local Organizing Committee not doing their job, but like we had to rent a car to get to Reims for the USA versus Thailand game because they just didn't have enough trains. Lots of people were struggling because there weren't enough trains to get around. As if they, again, hadn't planned for it.
There's been a lot of discussion and people can look these up, but that the stadiums are not very full. That there are incredible numbers when it comes to people watching around the world on television. The people want to consume this and take this in, and they love this sport and they love watching it. The numbers are wild this year. They're humongous. France is pulling down something, or they were, they were pulling down like 10 million viewers in France. There's only 66 million people in France. Brenda could talk about what was going on in Brazil. Just the numbers in all these places are gigantic. They can't get people to go to the games? It feels like a total failure.
Amira: And the tickers are so cheap, too.
Jessica: The tickets are so cheap, which I know they're going to use, I've said that repeatedly. They're going to use that against them in the end by saying they didn't earn enough money or bring in enough money. You see it, right? They lie. FIFA said they had sold, I'm not going to get the numbers right, a million tickets? Then they had to walk that back because it turns out they didn't actually do that, that they were overstating it. People are like well, maybe that's why people weren't trying to get tickets, because you told us all that they couldn't get them. It's just been a real .. Like, that's definitely for me how much FIFA doesn't really seem to care at all about this tournament. It's really obvious when you're there.
Brenda: Amira, what about you?
Amira: Yeah, it's been really interesting. I obviously didn't go to France, but I've been watching. So last year, during the Men's World Cup I got into a routine because of the timing. I would drop my kids off at camp and I go to this one bar in Bethesda and I watch the matches there because they got an ordinance to allow day drinking to show the World Cup.
Jessica: That's spectacular.
Amira: Right? This year, they still have that on the books so you can do it. Early on, there was a lot less people. Going down the stretch, I've noticed more and more people coming in for the games. All of the games, not just when the United States was playing. I've also have had so much like overdoses of men just being shocked at how compelling the game is in women's football, which is nothing new. It's just like genuinely, every time I'm watching a game, they're like, "Wow, this is really exciting!" Or, “Oh!!" This one guy who swore he would never be into it, literally 5 minutes later was like, “Oh!! So close!!” I was like, yeah you look really unmoved by this at all.
It's been really interesting just to think stateside how it's being received and going into a store, my kids wanted jerseys. Brenda had talked a lot about this, and we've seen her duct tape at work. I've noticed that like, say, in Target they have a section to cheer the United States. The jerseys they have, they have Alex Morgan, and they have Mia Hamm, which is not the right ... It's okay. We're like going back to the '90s. Toy Story is in theater. Godzilla is in theater. We've just returned to the '90s. Child's Play. It's interesting to me, again, because it connects back to what Jess was saying, is like this severe underestimation of the love people have for the women's game. Of the people who will tune in. Of the capacity you need for little things, like when do you open your bar so that people can watch the game? Do you want to put the fucking sound on? Yes. Thank you. There are so many bartenders who I'm like, do you wanna, should we turn the sound on? I'm like, yes! Turn it on! What the hell!
Shireen: Well not if it's Alexi Lalas, but yes.
Amira: Oh my god, yeah. Mute him.
Jessica: Just during the match.
Amira: Exactly. So, I think that that's been something that's really interesting to watch that's been simultaneously frustrating and also it has been a really compelling World Cup in my opinion. Then also, I'm really gutted for France and the Olympics and I can't shake it.
Jessica: Yes. Please, yes.
Amira: It's really pissing me off. I just don't like UEFA and that pisses me off.
Jessica: Will you just explain that real quick, because I was confused until like a day ago.
Amira: Sure. So, for Olympic qualifying, UEFA doesn't hold a separate qualification so they base it on the top three finishers of the World Cup. Because, as we've mentioned, there's been European teams dominating in the quarters and the semis, with France's loss to the United States on Friday, it knocked them out not only of World Cup contention, but also of qualifying for Tokyo by virtue of England advancing and then the other 2 teams being the Netherlands and Sweden. Those will be the European representatives in Tokyo next year. It's just frustrating because the team is so good and they're such a joy to watch. I felt like it was completely the luck of the bracket.
Amira: I felt like that quarter should have been the final. The fact that they won't be able to get pack on the pitch and defend it on a global stage next year feels so criminal to me.
Brenda: That's very, very common though. I don't think there's any confederation that has a tournament that's separate to qualify for the Olympics.
Amira: Well, CONCACAF does.
Shireen: CONCACAF does.
Brenda: Because CONMEBOL doesn’t, and Africa doesn't either. The way you qualify is one tournament qualifies you for the World Cup, Pan American games, and the Olympics.
Jessica: That sucks, too.
Amira: It sucks yeah, but CONCACAF doesn't do that.
Brenda: Right, but I'm pointing out that it's just not all that weird.
Amira: Well, it's stupid all the way around. The point is that I don't like it.
Brenda: I know, I know. I agree. I agree.
Shireen: I don't know if I can talk about France. I just keep tweeting photos of Louisa Nécib but I can't even, I can't even talk about it yet.
Brenda: I know. I know. I'm sorry. We're sad about France. Everyone is sad about France. Even those that didn't want France to win should be sad about France.
I guess one thing we haven't talked about that I want to put on the table as something to think through is the importance of hosting. 2023, so the Women's World Cup has never been in Latin America or in Africa, so I really hope that FIFA thinks really hard about that for 2023. It's pretty frustrating that they're 9 months behind making a decision on that. It's real, real frustrating. I mean, think of how long we've known that the men's cup was going to be in 2026.
Jessica: Yeah, they get over a decade.
Brenda: Yeah. When you look at those Netherlands fans, the Dutch fans, you think of 2017 Euros and how important that tournament was for them.
Brenda: I just have to put it out there in advance. If it goes to Europe or the US or even, obviously it's not going to go to Canada. I think I'll lose my shit. I think I will just, I'll just fall apart. Brazil spent billions of dollars on the 2018 World Cup. Why wouldn't you use those stadiums again?
Amira: They're doing nothing but collecting pollution.
Brenda: Yeah. They’re bus terminals now.
Brenda: I will just, I don't know. Send thoughts and prayers my way.
Jessica: When are we supposed to find out?
Brenda: I think now FIFA is pushing it pack until February?
Jessica: Geez. Okay.
Brenda: Which is so late. Which is so late.
Jessica: That's so terrible. Okay, anyway, okay.
Brenda: Yeah. I don't want to end on a terrible note because Burn It All Down is loving this Women's World Cup.
Now it's time for everybody's favorite part of the show, The Burn Pile where we throw all the things that we've hated in sport for the week on a proverbial giant incinerating trash bin garbage pile on fire.
Jessica: Put that on a t-shirt!
Brenda: Amira, you want to start us off?
Amira: Sure. I want to burn white people doing the absolute fucking most. We all have been watching Megan Rapinoe has been tremendous, I think, in how she's handled the fact that the documentary company that she interviewed with like months ago decided right before the quarter finals to release a clip of her saying she's “not going to the fucking White House.” I thought she handled it really well. I love her politics. I love her solidarity. I think that she's really intentional about it.
What I don't love is random white journalists who were barely able to muster support for Kaepernick, all of a sudden, literally penning these op-eds calling her, and I quote, the Muhammad Ali of our generation. You're doing the most. You're doing the most. Megan Rapinoe is tremendous and she's also Megan Fucking Rapinoe. Let her be her. That's the only, I feel like, it's the only kind of callback to black activism that you have in the '60s and you go back to it. We also, that's a character of who Ali was. You don't have a full scale of how much he sacrificed, like his entire livelihood. We didn't embrace him until he started shaking and he was nullified as a symbol of whatever colorblindness that we wanted to adapt in the '90s, like in multiculturalism. It's just offensive and you're doing the most.
Along those lines, this week in Chicago, the Chicago White Sox put up in between a Miller Lite ad and birthdays in the ballpark, the famous Chicagoan, famous people from Chicago, and right there next to Orson Welles and Pat Sajak was Emmett Till. Again, you're doing the fucking most! It's like somebody Googled ‘famous people from Chicago’ on Wikipedia and put up Emmett Till's picture. The victim of white supremacist murder is not a famous person you just put up in the ballpark. Spare me the oh, well anybody can learn history. Again, there are black fans in the ballpark who didn't need that trauma on that day. You're doing the fucking most. Just like everybody needs to chill out a little bit. That would really make me happy, until then, I'm burning it down.
Brenda: Burn. Could we burn that more than once?
Jessica: Gah. I hate going after Amira. I mean that in the nicest way possible. I know that Alexi Lalas is the lowest hanging fruit, but he's so unavoidable in the US during the Women's World Cup, so here we are. In the lead up to the France/USA quarter final, Lalas picked France to win. Which like, okay, credit to you, Alexi. We'll give you that one. When pressed on it by Fox Sports colleagues and asked what he'd do if he's wrong about the outcome, he said that if the US won the game, he'd put on a wedding dress and pose under the Eiffel Tower. The implication being that that would be his punishment for getting it wrong. Now, it's become a thing because as we all know and we've talked about, France did lose that match. Even people like US Women's National team midfielder Allie Long has asked if she can take the picture because ha ha ha.
Look, this is just lazy sexist and transphobic humor. Men in dresses, ha ha. I know we've talked about this before on the podcast because if I recall correctly, professional baseball teams used to do this all the time as hazing, because what could be more humiliating truly than a cis man wearing a dress. Just stop doing this. The joke is old. It's worn out, and it's a product of a misogynistic culture that tells women there's nothing more beautiful than when they wear a dress, and at the same time, denigrates the wearing of dresses as something to be avoided and laughed at.
This is one of those moments where you should stop and ask yourself why exactly is this funny. I literally tweeted that to Alexi Lalas. For fuck's sake, don't bring this shit into the Women's World Cup. My goodness. There are plenty of reasons why Lalas shouldn't be a part of this broadcast. Brenda through him on, metaphorically, the burn pile just a couple of episodes ago, but this feels like a quintessential example of his worthlessness to covering this competition. The truth of all of it is, he humiliates himself plenty by just going on television and having opinions. That should be enough. Leave the dresses alone, leave the women alone. Burn.
Brenda: My burn is quick and searing, unlike last weeks singe, or a couple of weeks ago. I want to burn the P chant. Being back in the Gold Cup during pride month, no less. The P chant, for those that don't know, is like the F word for homophobic slur in English, but it's in Spanish. It came up again during the Costa Rica Mexico game. The Mexican fans just did it every time to the keeper. I know it's not a new one. It's not like a complicated one, but it's so hateful. It's so awful. There's never been a Mexican player who's ever come out, male player, I should say. To do that in Pride Month is just particularly even terrible and painful. Anyway, I just want to burn that stupid chant that gets defended as part of tradition even though it's really new. Learn your history. That's a new chant. That's nothing that's been going on in Mexico since time immemorial. I just want to burn it.
Shireen: Okay, so as everybody knows, men are playing football somewhere. One of those places is the Africa Cup of Nations. What I'm going to burn is somebody who I previously supported. I prayed for their health. I went on rampages about Sergio Ramos because he injured him in the Champs League final 2018. I'm talking about Liverpool and Egypt, Mohamed Salah. Now, Mo Salah, as we know, is ... Well, actually, I did not know. He's represented, his agent is a fellow by the name, I'm just giving you some context here, by the name of Ramy Abbas Issa. This will become important later in my burn.
There is a player on Egypt's squad named Amr Warda Now, Amr Warda plays in Greece and Egypt did quite well. He was suspended from the team for allegations of sexual harassment. He apparently was reaching out to a model and she publicly shared his very misogynist, and I would classify as violent messages, when she rebuffed him. So, the Egyptian Football federation, to their credit, said we're suspending him. He shouldn't have a place on the team.
What ended up happening is senior players of the team, including Mohamed Salah, publicly spoke about "second chances." Mohamed Salah's tweet was, "Women should be respected. No means no. But, we should," but there's always a but! "We should always have an opportunity for second chances not to send men to the guillotine." The guillotine! He invoked the guillotine? You know what happens, men that are accused of sexual harassment, there’s a huge history of them actually being sent to the guillotine. No, Mo. No. That actually does not happen. Ever!
There was a lot of discussion on Egyptian Twitter, Arab football Twitter, and then Twitter generally about his tweet, that he didn't actually write it. When you have someone like Ramy Abbas Issa who is also, and I found out from a Twitter thread, a Donald Trump supporting, pro men's rights, alt-right misogynist who openly hates political correctness, quote unquote, socialism and in his words, “liberal snowflake weakness.” This is from a Twitter thread that I retweeted by Louis Allday. The Twitter account. I didn't know this. How can you claim ignorance when you're represented by somebody who shares these views?
What ended up happening is Egypt reinstated Amr Warda to the team. The reinstated him just two days ago because of the outcry from the senior players. But this is the point. The credit that I previously gave Egypt, I'm taking it back. I want to burn this because I'm livid and I will ... I tweeted this and I stand by it. I prayed for his health and his success, but wallah hadim, I will cancel Mohamed Salah in a heartbeat. This type of complicit rape culture behavior, the impunity that men face, and him supporting this is fiery, fiery bullshit in flaming garbage and I want to burn it.
Brenda: After all that burning, it's time to celebrate some wonderful accomplishments of women in our Badass Women of the Week segment. Honorable mentions go to those participating in the beach volleyball world championships which are taking place right now in Hamburg. Right now, Laura Ludwig, returning champion from Germany, is coming back after the birth of her son, and good luck to her particularly.
Julia "Hurricane" Hawkins became the oldest person to run and win the 100 meter dash at the national senior games for the women's 100+ age division. At the ripe old age of 103. So, wow. Holy cow. Just holy shit about that.
Ni Xialian of Luxembourg won a table tennis bronze medal at the European Games at 55 years old.
Former WNBA superstar Kara Lawson has been hired by Boston Celtics as an assistant coach.
Brenda: I knew we'd be hearing from Amira on that one. In more Dutch Football glory, the Ajax Women's team will be the first Netherlands to have their own collective labor agreement. The agreement will include guaranteeing minimum wage requirements, leave, insurance, and other benefits.
Also, honorable mention to all the women in the Junior World Gymnastics Championships in Hungary, and bon courage to the Equal Playing Field team, the two time world record holders who are attempting another record with the longest and biggest match in history with women from over 65 countries, ages 5 and up. The hashtag #AnyGirlAnywhere is where you can follow their efforts.
Can I get a drum roll? Badass Women of the week, Megan Rapinoe.
Brenda: And along with her, all in the LGBTQ community in sport. She, of course, scored two goals against France. When she was told that the same sort of weekend, last weekend, was Pride Day in France, she laughed and said, "Go Gays! You can't win a championship without gays on your team. It's never been done before, ever. That's science right there." End of quote. Bad ass.
Okay, what's good in everybody's world. Amira?
Amira: I want to send a happy, happy, happy, birthday shout out to one of my bestest friends, my play-cousin Leilani. Lani and I have been friends since literally I was 21 days old and she was born. There's pictures from our first month up until now, we have been friends for 31 years as of Saturday. She is my oldest and closest and I absolutely adore her. She is always my something good, but I wanted to send a special happy birthday shout out from Burn It All Down.
Brenda: Happy birthday. Jessica?
Jessica: Yeah, Wimbledon starts tomorrow. I know I wasn't aware of it 5 days ago. I am truly very excited. This is, of course, this is the tournament that got me into watching tennis 20 plus years ago, whenever that was. I'm always excited to watch Wimbledon again. Then I just wanted to give a shout out to my husband Aaron. Yesterday he ran a marathon outside of Portland, Oregon. Down Mt. Hood, apparently it was a downhill marathon. Which for anyone who doesn't know, that's 26.2 miles. It's his maybe his 30th marathon that he's run in his life. He runs them a lot.
Amira: Oh my god.
Jessica: He was nervous going into this one. He wouldn't really talk to me about his goals. I didn't know what to expect as far as how well he would do. Then the other wild thing about this is because of the road they were running on, they had to start very early. He started running at 5 am Pacific time, which means he was like up at 2 am to go run a marathon. I don't knot. It's all wild to me. He ran it in 3 hours 13 minutes and 36 seconds. Which was so good and so much faster than I actually had anticipated based on what he said. I'm just really proud of him. It's really remarkable that he's able to do this and to do it so well. It was just very fun. I'm very proud of him.
Brenda: Yay. Shireen?
Shireen: Happy Canada Day on Monday. To the land with the brutal colonial history that still seeks to control the bodies of indigenous women by forcing them into non choice of reproduction. Also, to mistreating them in the missing and murdered indigenous women and girls entire portfolio. But other than that, let's get ourselves some maple leaf donuts, have some Tim Hortons, protect the CBC, and recognize our privilege with universal healthcare, and with music in some way. I always associate Canada today with music. Anyways, let's first begin by recognizing that we're settlers and making amends if even possible, to our indigenous forefathers and mothers. I am writing for SB Nation and I got to write a beautiful piece that I loved about friendship on the pitch, stemming from Japan's loss to the Netherlands. It's something, sometimes I write things and they make me cry. This is one of those things. I really appreciated that platform.
Tim Hortons has a beyond sausage patty. It's a plant based thing and damn good. For people like myself, people like myself that eat Halal meat, it's a plant based option. It's not meat but it tastes like meat and I know some people are like, no, it shouldn't taste like meat. Anyway, I'm here for this breakfast sausage sandwich which will make my road trips with my children far easier. That's what I'm talking about, and my cough is almost gone. I'm very excited about oil of oregano because it's really helped me. And I've got some exciting things possibly coming down the wire that I cannot share yet. I'm very happy, happy and grateful for Burn It All Down.
Brenda: Mysterious! I'm excited for Fourth of July silly festivals that I love that try to recreate the 18th century. I know. I'm just gonna get my nerd on and go see some fireworks. Those are like two of my favorite combinations, like things to combine, history nerdiness, and fire. I like, this is so terrible, I like spending the whole time picking apart about what's all like not realistic in every single celebration, like a horrible human being.
Amira: Or like a really good historian.
Brenda: Right. I'm there so what's the point? They're just a bunch of good-hearted history buffs. I still have so much fun being like, well, you know, actually…
Jessica: Oh, no.
Amira: Brenda, are you excited about the ...
Brenda: I keep it to myself. It's in my own head. Don't worry. I'm not going to offend anyone. Amira?
Amira: Are you excited about fact that the United States is playing England on July 2nd which is the actual day of the Declaration of Independence?
Brenda: I know. We've already called it the next revolution. The thing is, of course, the thing is that where we live is right next to Clermont Historical site, which is where it was drafted.
Brenda: They read it. I was like so deep into this, like whole politics of it. My kids like Hamilton still. That's just going to be permanent. So yeah. I'm totally, totally happy and into all that and all the puns that will come, and all the bad history jokes.
That's it for this week in Burn It All Down. Although we're done for now, you can always burn day and night with our fabulous array of merchandise which has just been expanded. Go check it out at tspring.com/stores/burn-it-all-down. You'll have fun typing that. Burn It All Down lives on SoundCloud but can be found on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play, and Tune In. We appreciate your reviews and feedback. You can find us on Facebook and Instagram at BurnItAllDownPod and on Twitter at BurnItDownPod. You can email us at BurnItAllDownPod@gmail.com. Check out our website www.BurnItAllDownPod.com where you will find previous episodes, transcripts, and a link to our Patreon. We would appreciate you subscribing, sharing, and rating our show. I'm Brenda Elsey, on behalf of Amira Rose Davis, Jessica Luther, and Shireen Ahmed, keep burning on but not out.