Episode 114: Women’s World Cup Wrap Up and Naasira Mohammed on the Men’s Cricket World Cup
On this week’s show, Shireen, Brenda, Amira, Lindsay, and Jessica make an announcement about our next live recording in Nashville on Monday, September 9. [4:02] Then we do our Women’s World Cup wrap up. [39:05] And Shireen interviews former sports journalist Naasira Mohammed who is now the Full-time Media Officer West Indies Women's Cricket team, and holds the same position part-time with the men's cricket team, about the Men’s Cricket World Cup. [58:53]
Of course, you’ll hear the Burn Pile, [1:11:16] our Bad Ass Woman of the Week, starring Coco Gauff and the US Women’s National Team [1:13:55] and what is good in our worlds. [1:21:57]
Sue Bird on Megan Rapinoe: So the President F*cking Hates My Girlfriend https://www.theplayerstribune.com/en-us/articles/sue-bird-megan-rapinoe-uswnt
Women's Rugby Super Series: RFU content with England conditions in San Diego https://www.bbc.com/sport/rugby-union/48846512
Novak Djokovic involved in heated exchange with journalist after ‘attack’ over Justin Gimelstob support https://metro.co.uk/2019/07/03/novak-djokovic-involved-heated-exchange-journalist-attack-justin-gimelstob-support-10111543/
Women's Super Series slammed as world champion Black Ferns forced to use tents and portable toilets https://amp.rugbypass.com/news/womens-super-series-slammed-as-world-champion-black-ferns-forced-to-use-tents-and-portable-toilets/?__twitter_impression=true
Jessica: Welcome to Burn It All Down, the feminist sports podcast you need. I'm Jessica Luther, freelance journalist and author in Austin, Texas. And on today's show, I'm joined by everybody! Amira Rose Davis, an assistant professor of History and African-American Studies at Penn State University. Brenda Elsey, associate professor of History at Hofstra of Long Island. Shireen Ahmed, a writer, public speaker, and sports activist in Toronto. And Lindsay Gibbs, a reporter at ThinkProgress in Washington, D.C.
Thank you to our patrons who supported this podcast through our ongoing Patreon campaign, make Burn It All Down possible. We are forever and always grateful. If you'd like to become a patron, it's easy. Go to patreon.com/burnitalldown. For as little as $2 per month, you can access exclusives like extra Patreon-only segments. On today's show, we're going to wrap up the Women's World Cup. Which is sad, because that means it's over. But we're going to wrap it up for you. And then we will delve into the other World Cup happening.
The Men's Cricket World Cup. Shireen interviews former sports journalist Naasira Mohammed, who is now the full-time media officer for the West Indies Women's Cricket Team and holds the same position part-time with the men's cricket team. And of course, we'll cap off today's show by burning things that deserve to be burned, doing shout-outs to women who deserve shout-outs, and telling you what is good in our worlds.
But first, before we get into all of that, Amira? Do you have some news for our listeners?
Amira: Just a little bit! So, if you remember, Burn It All Down had an epic live taping in New York this past March. We loved seeing Flamethrowers in person, we had a great time together, and we loved the opportunity to get together and record in person. We loved it so much that we wanted to do it again! And our friends down in Nashville with Vanderbilt decided that they wanted to make that happen. So I am officially announcing that Burn It All Down is hitting the road again.
Amira: This time we will be in Nashville in September.
Amira: Monday, September 9th. We're going to be there for a conference called Shift, which is a men together conference. It's being co-sponsored by the WYCA there at Nashville as well as Vandy. And it's going to be a healthy conversation about domestic violence, about sexual assault, about masculinity, and steps forward. So it's right up our alley, it's something that we're really excited to talk about and be there. We will be talking on Monday, September 9th at 10 A.M. So Monday, September 9th, 10 A.M. Flamethrowers in the area, we would love to see you out there for another live recording.
We will definitely remind you of this event before it happens some more.
Jessica: One million times.
Amira: So get ready to hear a lot about it. But here it is, official news, BIAD on the road yet again, this time we're heading to Nashville.
Jessica: Yay! Woo woo! I feel like we need like some country something.
Brenda: Yeah, some Johnny Cash or I don't know.
Jessica: Music or something. Yeah. It's like -
Lindsay: Dixie Chicks.
Jessica: Dixie Chicks!
Shireen: Do I need a cowboy hat?
Jessica: Wait, what?
Shireen: I don't know anything about country music. Do I need a cowboy hat?
Brenda: Yes! Yes! Tell Shireen yes. She needs a country hat and chaps to enter -
Jessica: Oh my god.
Amira: Just listen to to Old Town Road.
Jessica: Oh goodness.
Shireen: Watch me get like stopped at security for having chaps in my carry on.
Jessica: We need like Burn It All Down cowboy hats. Woo!
Amira: Oh, merch idea!
Jessica: I don't know. Merch.
Lindsay: Don't tease me, Jess. Don't tease me.
Jessica: I'm not teasing! I'm serious.
Lindsay: That's right, you are in Texas. I forget.
Jessica: That's true, it fits in here. Well we are really excited about that. Thank you Amira for sharing that news and now on to the show.
All right. We've done it. We've made it to the end. Brenda, do you want to start this World Cup wrap-up for us?
Brenda: Yes and no.
Shireen: I know.
Brenda: So we're wrapping up just a month of excitement and amazingness and controversy and some things that disappointed us and some things that surprisingly made us happy. And we are officially done with the Women's World Cup of 2019! Yeah.
Jessica: I know, I'm sad! I felt so sad when it was over today.
Brenda: All good things must come to an end. And I really feel like this one was a crossroads for global soccer. So I'm going to put a few things out on the table and maybe we can discuss for a while. For me, this is the most interesting tournament in terms of how politically conscious these athletes are. Obviously, the defending champions and now the super-duper champions. Double back to back champions, the US Women's national team came in in the middle of a lawsuit, agreed to push back their mediation with US Soccer Federation until after it was over, and not only did they come out about equal pay but also of course LGBT rights and differences with Donald Trump over racial injustice and mostly that's Megan Rapinoe, but it's a lot of people too.
But also the Nigerian, the Spanish, the Argentine, the Chilean teams. You know, so many of these teams were aware of the politics behind this, how to use their platform, and what that meant. And I just think it's really interesting. Jessica wrote a piece and we'll talk about this to for I think over 10 years, I've advocated that women leave FIFA. In that time period, I would say absolutely nothing has changed in terms of disparities. I wouldn't. I would say of course you can see excitement, but it's the same boom and bust cycle that I've seen for my whole relationship as an adult.
And I'm going to just make one thing out there. You know, is Ada Hegerberg's legacy hurt by the fact that she doesn't participate in FIFA's Women's World Cup? Are we confused that she's the world's best player? I don't think that we are. And so I don't know what we need, you know, as fans of the Women's Game, FIFA for. I really don't. And Jessica's piece, I think, was really important this week in just throwing that out. Knowing those criticisms were coming, FIFA tried to get ahead of it. Gianni Infantino announced he would expand the next 2023 World Cup from 24 to 32 teams and he would double the prize money to lift it to a whopping 60 million. Compared to the 440 million dollars that the men will get in 2022. Not to mention what their federations will give them.
So we can talk about what happens now and what doesn't, but I do think it's worth throwing out there because many of us at Burn It All Down throughout this tournament have been critical about the ways that FIFA has handled such an amazing group and generation of women players.
Jessica: Yeah, thanks Bren. I think one of the things I'd love to hear you all, the rest of you all, talk about is whether or not - I mean Brenda mentioned it, that this, you know, is this a turning point for women's soccer? I feel like we have this conversation every four years. And sort of where are we going from here? Linds.
Lindsay: Yeah, I mean I think part of me is so pessimistic, right? Because it's not just in soccer that we have this conversation every four years. It's every WNBA season is the tipping point, right? Every women's hockey, every Olympics for women's hockey is, you know, going to be the thing that changes everything. And the truth is, it's never one thing that changes everything, right? It's a series of people making a series of choices on an ongoing basis. Like that's the only way to promote change.
And, you know, I do think there's - you know, despite my pessimism, there's a lot of reason to feel better about where we are. You know, there's undoubtedly better situation for club soccer for women, you know, globally. There are more European teams that are buying in. The pay has increased in the Australian league, and the National Women's Soccer League is in its seventh season as opposed to just fledgling, you know, in a second or third season. So, you know, there are promising signs that I don't want to be a naysayer and completely overlook, but I think it's hard because like you said, Jess, who are the, you know, decision makers. And Jess and Brenda, what I think you guys are saying about FIFA is so important.
Because just doubling, these incremental changes, are just going to make progress that much more incremental, right? In order to really sustain, and look. Expanding the field from 24 to 32 is great! But what is going to happen? Is that disparity going to be even that much greater between the haves and the have-nots, because what is FIFA going to do to ensure that enough federations are getting the support that when they get to the world stage, they can actually play, you know, actually make the most of it and build from there?
And of course, we know that FIFA doesn't follow through on its commitment to women's soccer and it doesn't have a system in place to check on those donations and make sure all that money is going in the right place. Brenda, you know, does the best work on this than anyone. And I wrote a piece that will be up Monday morning on ThinkProgress so it'll be up by the time this podcast comes out, and it's looking at the sponsors. You know, this big inspirational Nike commercial came on right after the World Cup ended and everyone was tweeting about how powerful it was and everything.
And I'm just over this inspirational branding of these women when they're not being paid what they're worth and brands like Nike, who US Soccer depends on so much, who Fox depends on so much, what if they were to say, "We're only going to keep supporting you if there's equality. If you're investing more." Like how radical would that be? That's what I want to see a commercial on.
Jessica: Yeah. I agree with all of that. I mean, I think I just want to say one thing that really gets me is that we still don't know where the next Women's World Cup is going to be. And I find that, like as I'm watching the finals today…
Amira: It's infuriating!
Jessica: They should be able to say, "See ya in four years in wherever it's going to be" and they can't even say that 'cause they don't care enough to even have figured that out before the tournament started. That to me is such a basic, obvious one. Shireen, I want to hear your thoughts on all of this but I actually, before we get there, I want to give you a chance. Do you want to talk about Sari Van Veenendaal before we get there?
Shireen: I can - it's not as if I've been pestering everybody in the group chat about talking about this. I do want to talk and sort of respond.
Jessica: How did we know you wanted to talk about her?
Shireen: I know. I am pretty much obsessed with her. I think there's a couple things. Like I've followed and supported Arsenal’s women's side and she was actually let go, so the Golden Glove winner of the 2019 Women's World Cup is actually jobless. Her club released her and she has worked with Dom Bloodworth of the Netherlands and Vivianne Miedema and the three of them sort of - I saw this tweet alluding to the fact that the three of them carried on that incredible communication skill. Like if you're a keeper and you don't have communication with your defenders and whatnot, forget it. I just found her to be poised, I found her to be confident, and I found her to be so tenacious which is absolutely required.
Her, you know, sort of her agility, her anticipation of movement and playing against, you know, the US National Women's Team would be absolutely daunting for somebody, but she took it in stride. She was fantastic so I'm like totally obsessed with her. I keep telling my daughter every time she touches the ball, I'm like, "Do that! Do that! Learn this! Sit there!"
Shireen: I'm just like, no pressure or anything, but she made me so proud because very often, goalkeepers tend to be forgotten. And I think in the story and in particular this World Cup, we've seen like Christiane Endler for example. Like what a phenomenal performance there. Like Vanina Correa of Argentina as well. Phenomenal performances. But they tend to get lost 'cause they don't have the flashiest job. And so just respect out there and I'm a forward so I'll say this, like we finish so we get the glory. But, you know, I birthed a goalkeeper and I see the toil and I see how it gets together and I'm just so elated for the goalkeepers, particularly Hedvig Lindahl of Sweden as well.
I thought that she was phenomenal. So really, just ugh! God. Love it. I'm so excited about all of this.
Jessica: Thank you for that. Now talk to us about the future of the game.
Shireen: Future of the game. Yes. That little aside.
Shireen: Just to build off of - Yes! Exactly! Invest in your goalkeepers, all of you people! One of the things that I find really important is the discussion and I've tried to do this on a global level perspective is we just got news today that Jack Ma, the actual owner of Alibaba, the website that everybody orders from I'm assuming, has pledged to donate 145 million dollars to develop women's football in China for the next ten years. And this is something, I had written a thread for Al Jazeera plus, AJ plus, and I had mentioned that that news wasn't - this news just came out today.
So that tweet talked about how the Chinese football federation is really investing and what they've done is that as of 2020, their domestic league teams must have a women's side. Full stop. Or they won't be eligible to play. And this is incredible because what it's doing is setting up youth development, coaching, training, but it's also looking after the welfare of retired professionals. Which I felt was amazing. Because how we usually, our players retire and then we sort of throw them out on their own. And this will guarantee some type of income or engagement so that they can stay on with living wages.
So that's just one of the things. But I mean in terms of moving forward, we've seen UEFA. We've seen how they're going to invest. And we've seen, you know, Ada Hegerberg, she was the face of that campaign. So we'll see what happens. As far as FIFA goes, I mean it was one thing for Gianni Infantino to actually be there. I don't know why he was there. I'm so frustrated and I'm so glad he and Macron were both booed because I can't stand either of them equally.
But I did notice how Gianni Infantino took Secretary General Fatma Samoura and said, "you come and do the trophy with me" which is so representative of what they do. They're taking a woman of color -
Jessica: I saw that too!
Shireen: A black, Muslim, woman. And like he's almost like -
Lindsay: At least there weren't like the sexy black dress girls.
Shireen: I know, but this is exploitation on another level. They literally hide behind her and her identity to be able to say, "Look! We have a black woman who's also Muslim so we can't do anything wrong." Fuck you. Like I hate that she's in that position and I didn't like it; I thought it was gross. And I can't stand that man if you want to talk about, you know, I know that there's issues happening that have never been resolved and when Brenda says nothing's been resolved over ten years in FIFA, that's on many levels. We're talking sociopolitically, geopolitically, women still can't enter stadiums in Iran. Women still with hijabs still can't play in France.
So, you know what, Infantino? As far as I'm concerned you might as well lock your watches up in an office somewhere in FIFA headquarters because I can't stand you and you being there just completely irritates me because FIFA rides the positivity off this and moving forward, as much as I want investment and money to be in the women's game, women do phenomenal things with nothing. And will continue to do it. And men know this. And that's what makes this infuriating for me.
Jessica: Yeah. And I'll just mention, I mean this is just piggybacking off of Shireen's work, but FIFA's been real shit when it comes to issues of sexual abuse in the sport, right? Which is common for these big organizations, but that's like another thing that they suck at. Amira.
Amira: I mean I think that, you know, if you think back to '99 and that was articulated, particularly in women's soccer, like this is the moment. And I think that, you know, what Lin says is true, we do have some version of this conversation, you know, in these big global moments, but particularly in the World Cup for women's soccer, I think that it is held up as like, "this is what's going to break the dam." And I think that is very easy to say that's totally false, but I think it's more accurate to say there's little cracks along the way.
And the reason I say that is 'cause I saw a number of people both on the pitch who said, "this is a dream I had since '99." Right? So that's a crack. I think that's important. I think that, you know, I don't like these inspirational commercials for much of what was already said, but I think that it's a crack to now have Budweiser using, not just sponsoring the NWSL but using the tagline of like, "Don't stop watching." Right?
Amira: And so I think that what these little cracks amount to really depends on what other pressure is applied. These are conversations that can't just happen every four years and that's the bigger thing. They can't just happen inside of the United States and not at all consider all of these other struggles. Because what we know and what we've seen and what many of us have documented is there's such power and there's such strength in numbers and solidarity. There's such awareness to be able to say like, "this federation is fighting for x, y, and z." What does that look like when you put it next to this federation and that federation, et cetera, et cetera.
One of the great joys of the Women's World cup for me is that I just wanted every team to win all the time.
Amira: And I think that, you know, really goes hand in hand with how much I see so many of these squads fighting for so much. And it's not divorced at all from their play on the pitch. And so for me, I think that, are we at the moment where the dam breaks? I'm not sure, but I definitely think we've put some cracks in it.
Jessica: Yeah. That's a great point and I - the Budweiser NWSL sponsorship is a big deal. NWSL also has a new deal with ESPN and hopefully we'll be talking about the NWSL in upcoming episodes of the podcast. You know, this is something we've talked about on the show before. Sort of how do you translate the fervor that nationalism brings to these teams into domestic leagues where we don't really have that. And so, you know, it is interesting the NWSL because all of these players play for the NWSL, on the US team, the entire -
Amira: Plus another 34 across the rest of the World Cup.
Jessica: Yeah, so, you know, I feel like that will be such a big deal when we can somehow - It's the domestic leagues, right? Like when we look at - when that shifts, when that changes in a really significant way, I feel like that'll be a really good sign because nationalism is so powerful when it comes to this fandom.
Amira: And so masculine as an endeavor, I'm sorry.
Jessica: Yeah, yeah. Absolutely. Brenda.
Brenda: Well I don't know. I have a few kind of more - I think it's not enough to say like, grow grow grow, grow grow grow. Like in what way do we really want it to grow? Do we want it to look like the men's game? Because that's a pretty ugly affair. Politically, in terms of homophobia, in terms of racism, like I'm not - I do have this question which is like what do you want? You know, what do you want from - what does it look like, a more successful football or soccer?
And I guess for me it's always, I come back to what the Argentine players say which is, "we want feminist football." Like we're not interested in just adding women to a toxic mix because it's not going to work. So that's like one point. My second point is it's going to take investment by the federation. So most people don't understand how global soccer is structured when they start to talk about stuff like money and domestic leagues and so I don't know, if there's any listeners out there that aren't clear, even Megan Rapinoe today blaming FIFA for the three finals that weren't scheduled by FIFA.
Only one final was scheduled by FIFA and the other two are the separate confederations. So part of it is a lack of transparency about the way the whole thing is governed. And people have really, you know, sort of strong opinions about marketability and domestic leagues. It helps to understand that that's at the federation level. Right? So that's why it's all the more important that the US women are taking on their Federation. Or that Ada Hegerberg is fighting with her federation because that's where you get investment in national teams.
Men's soccer didn't just become famous. It's millions and millions and millions and millions of dollars. The Brazilian government put billions of dollars into the 2014 World Cup. That wasn't just marketing, that wasn't Brahma Beer, it wasn't Nike, it was the taxpayers' money. Now you -
Jessica: I really just - I need men's soccer. I love that quote, Bren. I feel like we need that on a t-shirt or something.
Brenda: It's like it -
Jessica: Because it wasn't just all of a sudden. Yeah.
Brenda: Right! It's not just like oh, boom! You know what I mean? With the Brazilian men were about to win the World Cup in 1958 and they had Pelé and they had Garrincha, they hired 12 top medical people to go and evaluate that team. Like they pulled 50 teeth out of that team because they had never had dentists before. This is an investment that they decided it mattered to them to be good at this. And so it's like it matters that their men's side's good, but not their women's side.
So I just want to say one more that this whole crappy shit about marketing being the thing. Like can you market yourself or not? Okay. Fine, whatever. But let's not pretend that men's soccer is not subsidized by every single government that subsidizes it. Because it is. At the federation level and everything else, and my very last point, and I love you all for putting up with me, is just about transparency. It is not transparent. Expanding this from 23 to whatever, 32 or whatever Gianni Infantino wants to do is all smokescreens for the fact that none of this is transparent and the federations that are the worst to their women's teams are the most corrupt.
And they get away with it all the time because they're able to siphon money from development funds and just keep putting it under the category of youth and FIFA keeps letting it happen. So until they're going to be transparent, none of it's going to get any better.
Jessica: Man I could listen to you talk about this all the time. It's not putting up with you, I'm just in awe. Amira.
Amira: Yeah, so I'll be really quick because Brenda hit my point which was about what she said which was feminist football. I just wanted to give this quick historical nugget because it really has framed a lot of how I've thought about this and Jess why I enjoyed your piece so much. So in the 1920s leading up to the '24 Olympics, women's events, particularly in athletics, were banned entirely from the Olympic games and so women do what women have done for millennia which is just get it fuckin' done themselves.
And they formed a federation for women internationally in France. And in 1922 they hosted the Women's World Games there. And they sufficiently scared everybody watching, that is the men watching, of various sporting federations, because they realized, "Damn, they're doing this themselves." And there's a quote that the AU president which is the United States, essentially like the governing body of international sport at the time. And he said, "Well the women have found athletics. We cannot stop them. We just have to regulate their games." And I think about it because I think, okay so then women's events are put into the Olympic games and we see from then up until now, the extreme regulation that goes.
Whether it's, you know, gender verification or whatever it is. It is that kind of - that under a microscope but also exactly what Brenda said with no transparency and everything done under the kind of - the mirror of inspirational and yay and helped along by inspirational commercials.
Amira: And helped along by snapshots that they can promote and tweet out really fast, helped along by women that work for them that they can use as the smoke and mirrors that we're talking about. And all of it's an attempt to position themselves as if they are the gatekeepers to a game when really they're just terrified. Right? Because all they can do is regulate something that is really existing beyond the institution itself. And so I think about that historically a lot. And I think that that is kind of where I am now, which is why I thought your piece was so good, Jess, and I'm always pleased for Brenda's commentary.
Jessica: Yeah. Thank you. And I think one of the things, you know, do I think - like how possible is it to break away from FIFA? I'm not necessarily interested in that question. I'm just more interested in pushing people to recognize that women's soccer is where it is in spite of FIFA, not because of it and that that has to be a part of the discussion. And one thing that, just building on Amira's historical point here, that Brenda and Josh Nadel write about in Futbolera, their book, and that I talked to Brenda about for the piece is that there was also a Women's World Cup in 1970 and 1971 in Italy and Mexico City respectively.
It wasn't that name because it wasn't FIFA. They did it on their own. Women did. They had, you know, they had outside support of who was it, Martini and Rossi? I almost bought the wine the other day when I was in the store when I saw it 'cause I remembered. And in '71 there were over 100,000 people at the match in Mexico City to watch women and this just - and then we can even take that line and draw it forward to 2019 when millions and millions and millions of people watched this World Cup because they love women's soccer.
It's a viable product, if we want to talk about it in that way. To this day. Okay. Shireen.
Shireen: Yeah, just really, really quick. I just wanted to say that there's a reason historically why we called this podcast Burn It All Down. And one of the things is the lack of trust in existing systems that are actually more indicative of the oppression of women and the challenges and obstacles faced by them. At this point, I think a deconstruction of FIFA would be required because I really appreciate what both Amira and Brenda have said about smoke and mirrors. And even when I get back to a non-popular football place. Like let's forget about the superpowers in women's football.
Let's talk about Somalia. Shaima Mohamed talks very specifically in a Guardian piece that she doesn't know where the money goes, but she doesn't get any. And I think this is something we need to keep in mind. We're not talking about football for just being represented at the World's Cup and I will forever advocate for the ones that don't get there. There's a reason they don't get there because they will never have an opportunity to get there. The obstacles in their way are specifically at the hands of people at the heads of federations. And I will just completely say that.
I am not like this massive disruptor anarchist, okay? Well maybe I am, but what I mean to say is that I just think the system has not lead us to believe in it. And I love, Jessica what you said is women's football has succeeded in spite of FIFA, not because of it. And FIFA literally piggy backs on the backs of the accomplishments of these women and I'm sick and tired of it.
Jessica: Yeah. Yeah. Thank you. All right. To wrap up our wrap-up, I'm going to throw it to Lindsay. All right, we did actually - We had a final today. And as Brenda said, we now have back to back champions in the US team. Their fourth one overall. Lindsay, how do you feel about that?
Lindsay: Oh my gosh. I'm emotional. Like I'm emotional. I'm legit like... You know I'm probably one of the least emotional people on this podcast about - I mean, I get emotional about my own things. But I don't know how Shireen has any tears left, the amount of times that she texts me that she's crying over sports things. I love her so much for it. But I'm not in my feelings that much about this stuff. This has really been amazing to see. But before I forget, I do want to really quickly respond to some of the things that you all were saying before I just completely melt into an incoherent mess.
One of the things as we're talking about, first of all I thought Amira, when you were talking about how there are all of these cracks, and it's amazing that all these cracks have been put there by the women themselves. You have these big sponsors and you have FIFA and you have these federations. And they have all these hammers, like they could make such big impacts, right? If they yielded in the right way. But they don't. So instead the women have had to chip their way up. And the amount they've been able to accomplish is staggering and now it's like you look at these hammers and you're like, "I don't trust those."
Maybe the right thing is to get those away and, you know, keep clearing the way this way. And I think it's a really important thing to think about. And, you know, case in point, let's talk about US soccer. So the US women's team is coming off of this phenomenal World Cup, you know, most popularity ever. This is the time to seize not only on their popularity but also to help this sustain the National Women's Soccer League. Well, the very first victory tour match they scheduled is on an NWSL weekend. So they've already started messing this up. They've already started to, you know, on this very day. They are showing that they don't really care about the NWSL. They just care about this victory tour and making their money that way. But, you know, not in doing both.
So that's just incredibly disappointing and incredibly frustrating and I don't know what to do about that. If you're a new fan, welcome to this. Because this is part of what it is. Is just seeing these decisions being made. But okay, look. There was - I knew the US was favorites coming into this tournament, but then of course I read everything that all these smart people told me that, you know, France was probably going to beat them and I saw that, you know, people I loved picked them to lose in the quarter finals and I set that in, but I never really believed that they might - like it never really felt to me like that my lose until halftime today when it was 0-0.
I started being like, "Oh my God! What if they don't win?" Like, you know, it just like -
Jessica: Yeah. Me too.
Lindsay: Because my World Cup coverage started with this talk with Meg Linehan who we love over at The Athletic and, you know, we were talking about how much they put of themselves out there with this equal pay lawsuit. And you know, Meg said it in very frank terms and this is in a piece we did for ThinkProgress, you know. They need to win to make this all worth it. That's the stakes they've set for themselves. And it's so unfortunate that that's what this leads to, but that is the pressure they put on their shoulders. It was win or else, and they did it! They won. And just - I know Rapinoe wasn't like - I know the soccer experts, you know, that there are better players on the pitch than she was. And every single US player, I mean, you know, Crystal Dunn, I just - and Rose Lavelle, that goal. Like I just can't stop thinking about it.
But what Megan Rapinoe did and the way she held up during those penalty kicks and the way she held up, talk about putting pressure on herself. Not just with this lawsuit, but in being so outspoken against the President and being so out there just with herself and who she is and then to perform under that amount of pressure. It's something I really can't even fathom. And, you know, seeing Tobin Heath celebrating, you know, seeing Christen Press. Seeing them in the - I'm just literally, even while I'm here listening to our brilliant co-hosts and I am paying perfect attention, I can't stop checking Instagram for more updates on the celebrations. Like I just - it is so cool! The pictures of Jess McDonald and her son celebrating? Oh my God!
Jessica: Ah! It's the best picture.
Lindsay: And it's so great. You know, also - I know we've talked about this on the show before, but it's so inspiring how many out players there are right now! And you know, just seeing, you know, all the queer people on my timeline and seeing what it means to them to have Kelley O'Hara, you know, kissing a woman in the stands and you know, to have Sue Bird there representing, supporting Megan Rapinoe, and of course you have Ashlyn and Ali. And, you know, I think because, you know, there's always been the, you know, "well of course everyone in women's sports is gay" but it hasn't always been out there!
People haven't always felt comfortable. This is something to celebrate and something to be excited about. So I think the Netherlands was incredible and there was so much great soccer, but I do want to see other people win it. You know what I mean? I do want to see women's soccer, you know, just continuing to be pushed and the US team continuing to be pushed. I want to see everyone get better and they are, but this meant a lot. This was incredible to see and to see how a lot of my friends and family members are responding to this has just had me emotional all day. It matters here, and that's really amazing to see.
Jessica: All right. Yeah. I cried when Rapinoe looked like she was crying at the end. That's when it got me. Amira? How did you handle it?
Amira: You know, pretty well, I have to say. But I do want to say, I went to a watch party here at Penn State that Coach Erica threw. Obviously, we have two alums on the squad. Both Krieger and Alyssa went to Penn State. And so they were out on the lacrosse field, it was up on the big screen, there was so many people there. It was really cool. And they had both the men and the women's team there, but what I was really enthusiastic about was the way that they made the link between what everybody was watching and therefore with supporting the women's soccer team at Penn State.
And they kept, you know, saying, "hey we start this season August 23rd versus Stanford" and it's something that's really, you know, important to me when we talk about the professional soccer. It's also like if you don't live near a team, there's colleges. Right? There's all these other ways to support the growth of the game and so I loved the environment. I was so nervous because of I'm super superstitious. But I watched it through my hands.
Jessica: I did too!
Amira: With Paulina and I was just - it was so nice to be around people who were also collectively losing it. But I was so excited and then as Lindsay said, it's just been really great to bask in the win and the Insta stories of like, drunk Alex Morgan is my favorite version of Alex Morgan I have discovered.
Lindsay: And thank you Ashlyn Harris. You are the MVP for streaming everything on Instagram.
Lindsay: The rest of the team really needs to step it up.
Amira: Exactly. Her and Allie Long just put everybody to - Even Ashlyn, literally I knew that she understood how much we needed this, but when she looks dead at her camera on Instagram and says, "You're welcome for this fuckin' content, bitches!" I'm just like yes. Give me all of it.
Lindsay: Every writer ever is going to use that GIF like every single day now.
Amira: It was glorious. I was super happy. I was happy for that fourth star. If you want to know, as me and Jessica figured out, the jerseys are sold out already for four stars.
Jessica: Yeah, we were not quick enough. I was not quick enough.
Amira: We were not quick enough. But it was, you know, I just fuckin' love the Women's World Cup.
Jessica: Yeah. Me too. Shireen.
Shireen: I've grown a lot in this World Cup.
Jessica: You have.
Shireen: I will say. You know what, and I'll say this.
Jessica: Credit to you.
Shireen: I'm not doing this drinking the kool-aid 'cause I don't think it's kool-aid. I think it's sparkling water which I love and I think it's clear and it's transparent. No, wait for my metaphor. I think I came into this tournament being like, "anyone but the US" because I - seriously. And I think it's, I'll be honest, it's a little bit of jealousy. Getting Canada was knocked out last time too early and this time too early. I'm heartbroken about France, but and you know, the continental African teams. But the thing is is that the more that there was criticism around the mannerisms and individuality and the hustle and the attitudes and speaking about identity and politics of the women's team, it made me love them more. The Americans.
And literally a catalyst of this, which I have disclosed to my amazing Burn It All Down crew, was the British-mocking Alex Morgan's tea celebration. For me I'm like "are you effing kidding me? No." So then I started to think about myself. I was, you know, being coached by Amira and being influenced by Amira as I often am and just sort of thinking about what that meant. And for Pinoe to get up and to prove and not be performative about her allyship.
She's the first white ally to kneel with Kaepernick. She is intentional like as Amira said, and I think for me that was really like, okay, what are you critiquing? Are you critiquing their hustle, their hard work, and I love Tobin Heath so much and Horan and yes because of their Thorns connection back to Christine Sinclair, but it's also made me grow as myself and say, "listen, are we policing the way that women are?" And that's what was happening here. And I feel like sometimes it was getting really close to it. I'm still going to be very, very critical of a lot of things the United States - I think the pay to play system is terrible and I think they're insufferably white, but that's other places too.
So anyways, heartiest congratulations to the United States. You deserve it and like I said, I'll eat a cheeseburger or something American. Apple pie or whatnot. I mean I'm going to Nashville, what else do y'all want from me?
Brenda: A cowboy hat and chaps
Jessica: Okay, okay.
Amira: I’m eating crawfish right now. That's as American as you get.
Jessica: All right. All right, I'm in charge here. And so... I'm going to have to cut us off here. I feel like we could talk for hours longer about the World Cup. It is very sad that it has ended.
Amira: We've talked about it for a month!
Jessica: I know! And there's still more to say! But this has been great. Thank you all for that, I really enjoyed that discussion.
Up next, Shireen's interview with Naasira Mohammed about the Men's Cricket World Cup.
Shireen: Hello Flamethrowers, Shireen here. I am absolutely delighted to have my friend Naasira Mohammed here with us today. She's coming to us from Antigua and Naasira's amazing. She works at Cricket West Indies, she's the full time media officer for the West Indies women's cricket team, also known as the Windies, and she holds the same position part time with the men's team. Before she started this, she was the sports journalist for four years to take over that role. She's always been into sports and as she says, for West Indians, cricket is a part of our identity.
Naasira is the first woman to be the media officer for the West Indies senior men's team and the second woman to hold that title for any international cricket team. So I mean, we're just so excited to have her here to talk to us a little bit about another World Cup that's happening. The men's cricket World Cup. Welcome, Naasira.
Naasira: Thank you very much Shireen. And shout out to your listeners.
Shireen: So excited to have you on. So for those of our listeners who actually don't know very much about cricket, there's a little bit of a confusion about what type of, you know, cricket match happens. There's something called a T20 and there's something called ODI, can you as our expert just explain the difference to us?
Naasira: ODI is One Day International. That's what the acronym stands for. One Day constitutes eight hours, which is 50 overs per team. As opposed to Twenty 20 or T20 cricket. It's 20 overs per team, match finishes in a maximum of three and a half hours, barring no weather intervals and interruptions.
Shireen: Okay so the T20 is sort of like a faster match. When was that brought into play? 'Cause when I was growing up and being Pakistani, cricket used to go on for days. Like days. So T20 came into international play when?
Naasira: Maybe the early - late 90s, early 2000s. It really picked up in about maybe 2008, 2010. Around that time. As you would know, West Indies, we like pace, we like action, so it's our pet format if you want to call it that. Our men's team is currently the World T20 champions. Our women were the defending champions, but they lost the title at home to Australia last year. But we're going to come back next year.
There's still a longer format as you mentioned. Days and days and days. That's test match. And they still play, and it goes on for five days. But, you know, everybody tends to gravitate, young people particularly, to the shorter format of T20.
Shireen: So the men's cricket World Cup that's happening right now. That's happening in England.
Shireen: And -
Naasira: So that's 50 overs.
Shireen: That's 50 overs, correct. Per team. And how many teams qualified for the World Cup?
Naasira: 10 teams qualified. Now what you have is a points table that happens throughout the year that leads up to the international tournaments like this World Cup. So the World Cup format is 10 teams. However, the top eight teams automatically qualify for the World Cup and then you have a qualifier tournament where the first and second places finish off the top 10 that will play in the men’s World Cup.
Shireen: So this ODI World Cup. Does it happen annually or does it happen like the football World Cup that happens every four years?
Naasira: It happens exactly like the football World Cup which happens every four years and same for the women's tournament. The T20 tournament for the women's happen every two years.
Shireen: Okay. All right. So that's a lot of cricket to keep track of which is totally fair. And from what I understand, cricket is the most played sport in the world? Or is it football.
Naasira: It's probably football, but cricket is a close second simply because of the numbers that the sub-continent make up. Because India alone is over a billion people and as we know, cricket is their number one sport. So in terms of that, cricket might have - football would have the edge globally, but I think maybe in numbers, cricket might just surpass it.
Shireen: So in globally as you spoke of, like we see a lot of places like, you know, England, Australia, or in India has a stronghold as well and I want to say Pakistan, but you know, as a long-suffering cricket fan of Pakistan women's, meaning just that the disparities between the men and the women's game. Like I know that on Burn It All Down we covered the cricket World Cup. We were fangirling over Mithali Raj who's amazing. And, you know, just sort of taking that in.
Do you see that gap shrinking a little bit between the men's game and the women's game in cricket?
Naasira: Yes. It's not going to happen overnight, but you know, the catalyst for it has already happened. Australia have been making strides. England have been making strides. Even here in the West Indies, we've, you know, implemented programs and the front mechanisms to improve the woman game, improve contracts, et cetera. Pakistan also recently made some changes where they double the salary of the women players, double allowances, change flight routines, et cetera. So the women's game globally is growing.
India has been a forefront of it in terms of the high performance center, but Australia is number one in terms of developing the women’s game.
Shireen: So I think one of the things that I was going to ask you is that a couple years ago, I actually - in 2016, the T20, the Twenty 20, I - when these women won the ICC T20, I was really thrilled. I actually wrote a piece for gal-dem about that. And what I really loved was because the Windies won, the men came out to support them. And that for me was a really, really important moment when you have counterparts really amplifying and supporting the women's game. I mean it makes a difference because the men need these places.
The cricket stars are really their number one athletes. Do you see that happening more and is that something in terms of less sexism in the Caribbean and the West Indies that you see that the men are happily supporting the women's team? Do you - is that just part of the culture of joy and of cricket, whereas you want see that. I've seldom seen that in England or even in Pakistan, for example. You don't see as much of that outgoing, public, unapologetic support.
Naasira: It's just how we live in the Caribbean. We support each other, particularly when it comes to cricket, and I must say our men's team. They're so supportive and vocal towards our women's team. For example, last year at the T20 World Cup which was hosted here in the Caribbean, former captain of the men's T20 team, Darren Sammy, he was always an ambassador for the tournament and for the West Indies women's team that, you know, he rallied supporters in Saint Lucia which is his home country, to come out and support. Saint Lucia was sold out for every single West Indies women's game.
The crowd was over 10,000 in attendance every match.
Naasira: It was electric. I mean, I wasn't home in the Caribbean because I was with the men's team in India and Bangladesh, but let me tell you, looking at it on television, I had goosebumps from seeing the atmosphere that I felt radiating from the television. And all guys, you know, they send greetings. They're always in contact with the female players. You know, giving them advice, just simple chit-chats, but that's the camaraderie that both teams have with each other.
Shireen: I mean that's an example to the rest of the world where you've got federations and I know for a fact that the Pakistani cricket board was accused of, you know, stagnating the development of the women's game and we've seen Sana Mir come in and come out and after they lost at the World Cup, there was nobody to receive them at the airport. We talked about this on Burn It All Down. So I mean, what advice can you give as having hands-on, very, very on-the-ground experience, what advice would you give federations to help amplify their women's programs?
Naasira: Honestly, from what I've been seeing because in February I went to Pakistan with the West Indies women's team, I just came back from England with the West Indies women's team as well. But I will tell you this, so they're making a concerted effort, a lot of these cricket boards. And they just have to keep going at it. They can't just make two points of improvement and then leave it like that because it's a constant change. The women's game is evolving. Physical fitness, technical tactics, et cetera. So they have to keep improving and investing.
And that's the biggest thing worldwide in women's sport. Investment.
Shireen: Definitely. And do you see the women coming out to support the men, like while in England, do you see women's teams coming out to support the men?
Naasira: Definitely. A couple of girls and myself, we went and supported our men's team when they played New Zealand in Manchester. We took a train from Darby to Manchester. It was about two hours. And we went up and we supported because they're like our brothers and we know that if it was our team playing at a World Cup, they would have done the same thing for us.
Shireen: Wow. Did you see any celebrity supporters watching this? 'Cause we've seen - 'cause the women's World Cup is happening at the same time. So we see a lot of celebrities supporting globally and whatnot. What about cricket lovers that are celebrities?
Naasira: Well I will tell you this, though. Rihanna made an appearance at the last game. You might have seen it on television and that was all the rage that, you know, Rihanna came out to support our West Indies boys. And funny enough, she obviously went to school in Barbados, she's from Barbados, and one of our assistant coaches, Mr. Roddy Estwick was her P.E. teacher in school and Carlos was her classmate.
Shireen: Wow. I didn't -
Naasira: Carlos Brathwaite, that is.
Shireen: I didn't know that she was a cricket fan. I know she's a football fan because she tweets about it during the World Cup, but this, it was so wonderful to see her there and I did see her coach say to her, "everyone knows her as Rihanna but I know her as Robyn Fenty." So I saw that. That was - speaking of which, what's your favorite Rihanna song?
Naasira: Funny I think you should ask that, but Don't Stop the Music because it's such an upbeat song and, you know, it's like constant action. You always want to groove when you hear it and it's reminiscent of Caribbean culture, Caribbean lifestyle and West Indies cricket, we're always on the move.
Shireen: One of the things that I love about Windies cricket is that, for me in sort of watching this cricket which reminds me of - it's tied in with the colonial past, right? It's tied into where England came and sort of inserted itself in different places and then brought this game and it picked up wildly. But cricket can be super boring, so the fact that the Windies injects this love, and even Afghanistan who I know placed last in this tournament, they inject this joy. This excitement. Like 'cause let me tell you, when I was watching the T20 tournament a couple years ago, 2016 it was, I was like, I couldn't believe how taken in I was.
And now the women's game has also made it more exciting, but can you speak to that? How has Caribbean culture helped sort of hype up this sport that otherwise can be construed as like, I remember somebody saying, "Oh it's as boring as golf is." So what are your thoughts on that?
Naasira: Shireen, in the Caribbean, it's something that you have to experience from us because just speaking for myself alone, like I was in India last year and other people looked at me and obviously I'm of East Indian descent, but last year was my first time going across to India. I don't know the language very well. I look Indian so a lot of people were looking at me and I said, you know, I'm from the Caribbean. What I know is Caribbean. I don't know much about the Indian culture because I didn't grow up in that.
And we're just a liberal, fun-loving, outgoing type of people. And you'll find it in the entire Caribbean. All the way from Jamaica come all the way down to Trinidad and Tobago which is the southernmost island in the Caribbean and Guyana, which is part of the Caribbean, but it's in mainland South America. I think because of our history and because we want to come out of that negative memory type of an experience, we are a happy people. And we enjoy ourselves. We love to have a good time.
In the Caribbean we have this tune, particularly in Trinidad, we have this tune called Lime. L-I-M-E. And it means to hang out. It's a colloquial phrase. So we love to lime. We love to enjoy ourselves, like the little - the smallest thing that you can get to celebrate and have a lime or have a party with your friends or your family, whatever it is, we take the opportunity to do it. And it's something that we translate onto everything that we do, whether it's, you know, office aid for a job or onto the cricket field as cricketers. We tend to do it with pride and with that enjoyment that, no matter if you're not having a good day with the bat or with the ball, we enjoy it.
We look for the good in things. And that's just who we are as a people.
Shireen: I mean, there's no doubt that you're one of the most positive people I've ever encountered in sports media and finding you was like finding a gem because it's really interesting that you said when you traveled to India, people had assumptions about you because, you know, you're of East Indian descent, but you're so, so, so Caribbean. And in not just your love of the chicken curry, which I know you do love, but it's very much, you know, people have assumptions. Like you wear hijab. You are like one of the first women to hold the position that you hold on an international level.
So when you go places, do you get a weird reaction from other media officials or other journalism because I know it's very similar in cricket that the majority of mainstream cricket media is white and male. And then you pop up in there. So have you had any sort of situations where people are just dumbfounded at your existence?
Naasira: You see their reactions all the time. I think now, a lot of people know who I am because of, you know, my tour to India last year and to Bangladesh and subsequently with the women's team. But usually when I first walk into a room, a lot of them, even though I'm wearing a uniform, they're hesitant to know what position I hold and who I am on the team, et cetera, like that. Also to not just wearing the hijab but being a woman working with a men's team. You know, it was so funny because a lot of, particularly in India, now Indian media and Indian cricket media is a juggernaut that you need to experience yourself to know what it's like.
And being a woman, I think it was a bit shocking for them that they had to deal with me to get to the players in terms of interviews and stuff like that. So it was a little bit daunting at first for me to deal with it, but I quickly developed a rhythm and, you know, I think the rest of the guys developed a level of respect for me because even now, they would message me and they'd be like, "Hi, Ms. Mohammed, how are you doing?" You know, recently for Eid, a few of them messaged me Eid Mubarak and stuff like that. So it's a level of respect that they develop knowing that, yes, I'm a woman, yes, I'm a Muslim that wears hijab, but I am a professional who is here to do this job.
Shireen: That's amazing. Like you're breaking so many barriers. You are absolutely illustrating the possibilities of what you can do as long as, you know, you're obviously the cricket expert. And speaking of which, any predictions? Because the final will be played on July 14th and this episode will come out before that. And I know that you had explained to me that England, Australia, India, have qualified for the semis and we're waiting on one more team. Any predictions on who that might be?
Naasira: I think it might be Australia, India in the finals. But as it is now, New Zealand is the fourth team that is in the semi-finals but there's still one more game to play tomorrow. But the fourth place could be calculated upon net run rates, which is amount of runs scored as in a ratio to the amount of runs that you lose by. So Pakistan is there in a 1% chance of qualifying as the fourth team. But it's a long chance for them to qualify. But in terms of prediction, my team is already out. So for me, whoever wins, wins.
Shireen: Okay. That's how it is. I just wanted to thank you so much for this. I think it's so important. Where can our listeners find you and your work?
Naasira: They can follow me on Twitter, @NaasiraMohammed. No big variation in my name. They can see my articles on Windies Cricket. They can follow us on Windies Cricket on social media. So we're Windies Cricket on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
Shireen: And so you run all the social media accounts?
Naasira: I assist with them in terms of content, so I have two colleagues that also work along with me in terms of writing the articles and stuff. So there's three of us. We work as media officers for the West Indies cricket teams.
Shireen: That's amazing. Such a pleasure and honor to speak with you, and thank you for sort of deconstructing cricket for us in a way that makes it so understandable. And if you could encourage our listeners to sort of get into cricket, how would you do that? Like what are ways and places like US and Canada where it's not as popular to get into it? What is your advice to people that might want to get into it?
Naasira: This summer, there is a T20 tournament that plays in Toronto. GT T20 Canada. All the international stars, not just from the West Indies, but you have Australians, South Africans, some Pakistanis, they're all going across there to play and I would encourage everyone to come out and enjoy their summer. You'll get to meet the athletes. You'll get to learn what cricket is, and cricket is developing in Canada right now because of the expat population that you have there.
And it's one of the bigger sports. With time and with investment and as we've said, we're saying, it will grow and it will develop. Just recently, you had an invitational team that played in Trinidad in April in preparation for the T20 World Cup qualifier. A women's team, there are prospects and potential within that team for you to have a proper national team and, you know, challenge in the near future.
Shireen: That's awesome and we'll definitely look into it. When is that tournament in Toronto because I might just pop by.
Naasira: I believe it's supposed to start the end of July, maybe August month. I know it's within the summer period, but I don't have the exact dates for it as yet. But what I can do is I can find out and I shall let you know.
Shireen: That's amazing. And thank you so much for being on Burn It All Down. Your expertise is so appreciated and we look forward to having you on again. Thank you, Naasira.
Jessica: Now it's time for everyone's favorite segment! We like to call it the Burn Pile! Where we pile up all the things we've hated this week in sports and set them aflame. Lindsay, what are you burning?
Lindsay: Okay. I'd like to burn coverage of how the earthquake impacted the WNBA. Now, okay. Work with me here. I know this sounds ridiculous, but there was an earthquake in Los Angeles or near Los Angeles, and the aftershocks were felt in Las Vegas where NBA summer league was happening and the Washington Mystics were playing the Las Vegas Aces. Now first of all, obviously the most important thing is that everyone is safe. Like that trumps everything else.
But, so the summer league game ended up being canceled. The Mystics-Aces game which once again, was not a summer league game. This was a real legitimate game between two of the best teams in the WNBA, with some of its biggest start, Elena Delle Donne, A'ja Wilson, Liz Cambage! It was during half time and the game ended up being suspended. So now there's this entire half of the game that's going to have to be rescheduled sometime. Nobody knows when. And I was watching ESPN after it 'cause I got home from, you know, I'm in North Carolina right now doing some family stuff, and I got home. It was really late. I was watching ESPN. For any updates on this at all, they talked about the earthquake and how it impacted sports events for an hour. And there was no mention of the Mystics or the Aces.
This is from ESPN! A partner of the WNBA! And to make matters even worse, during that hour, they did a segment on the - Sorry, this was the next morning. They did a segment on the ridiculous Kawhi Leonard, Paul George trade to the Clippers which we could do a whole podcast about, but we won't, and they were going through all of the teams that it - all of the stars that were now playing sports in LA. And they didn't even mention the Sparks who have Candace Parker! And the Ogwumike Sisters! So it was just, to me, it was just two examples of how grossly even ESPN just leaves women's sports out of the conversation entirely. And that is how you do damage!
You just have to include them in the conversation! I'm not saying make them more important than Zion Williamson, but include them in the conversation. So burn.
Jessica: Burn! Brenda, what is on your burn pile?
Brenda: On my burn pile are the homophobic chants that have marred the Copa America and the Gold Cup. We knew to expect the P chant coming from Mexico, which is basically like to say the F-word in English. It's pride month. It's upsetting and violent and it basically normalizes violence against the LGBT community and we all know this and it still goes on and CONMEBOL fined the Brazilian federation $15,000 because they have also begun their own version of the P chant, which is a B chant. And I don't - I'm sorry for all the like, I don't know, truncated words here, but you know, just trust me on this.
Again, it's another version of the F-word in English for a homosexual and it is just so upsetting that every time there is something going on where it's a penalty kick, it is screamed at the opposing goalkeeper. And it's just - I don't even know what - why aren't they doing anything? Just why aren't they doing anything? I know why they're not doing anything. 'Cause they don't fucking care. And it's so sad. We know the vulnerability of the LGBT communities in Mexico and in Brazil, where people like Marielle Franco, you know, who was a city councilwoman in Rio, was murdered and still impunity and still impunity and it's just like, oh well, you know what? It's just a funny little tradition.
And I'm just going to give a special spot to burn Brazil here and then I'm going to be done. Which is no, it is certainly not. Homophobia has always been present in Brazilian football for sure. However, this chant was actually incorporated since the 2014 World Cup because they were influenced by Mexico. So I want to burn Mexico and burn Brazil for ugh! Both those connections. So burn.
Jessica: Burn! All right, so y'all know how much I love tennis, and honestly, honestly, most of the time I just wish I could be the fan who sticks my head in the sand and ignores all the off-court stuff and I just get to watch people play, but I'm also not built like that. So this week, Novak Djokovic, world number one, has put himself squarely on my shit list and he's been teetering for a long time because he likes to take opportunities when given to him to question equal pay in sport which always bothers me to no end because no female tennis player will ever come close to making the same amount of money he does so I don't even know why he participates in that.
But now, this week I'm done with him for good. Aaron actually asked me earlier, “Are you done with him?" I'm like, yes! He's on the list! He was asked by a journalist about his relationship to Justin Gimelstob in a post-match press conference. And we've talked about Gimelstob repeatedly on this podcast. He's a former tennis player, current powerful tennis insider, he's an abusive bully and a sexist. Gimelstob has been somewhat of a pariah since he pleaded no contest to punching a man over 50 times in the head while yelling, "I'm going to fucking kill you!"
The man's wife told the court that she was pregnant at the time, but due to stress from the attack later miscarried. There's other stuff about him, but in regards to this specific attack, he won't take any responsibility for it. He was pressured into resigning from the ATP board as a player representative. In the wake of this, Djokovic is the president of the ATP player council and a vocal supporter of Gimelstob. And this came to a head this week when a journalist, and bless this journalist's heart, asked Djokovic in a post-match press conference, as I said, if he had read the victim impact statements since Djokovic refuses to distance himself from Gimelstob.
Djokovic responded with quote, "is he proven guilty?" Which, of course, is literally what Gimelstob wanted people to be able to say and why he pleaded no contest. Djokovic then fell back on the old, "if he's ever proven guilty, then at that point I'm not going to support him." Which is the coward's way out. In a world that rarely finds abusers guilty of anything. The journalist pressed, saying that Gimelstob essentially accepted guilt when he pleaded and Djokovic said, "I'll get around to reading the documents and then we can have the discussion later."
But then he didn't stop. He got angry at the journalist for asking, stating that the journalist had, "attacked him." Djokovic then says quote, "I feel like you're putting me on the spot because of what he has done or that I have not been taking enough action as a leader." As if he shouldn't be put on the spot! As the ATP player council president, I hate when men act like any accountability is an attack. That's bullshit. And as I said, I think it's cowardly. Either you're a leader or you're not, and Djokovic to me showed this week that he doesn't want to be one. So burn.
Jessica: All right. Amira, what do you want to torch?
Amira: Well, it's like a light burn and it's short. So as we've seen over the last four weeks, many teams, brands who have given not one iota of care about the women's national teams suddenly are jumping on board. And that's all swell, but their content, I'm talking specifically about their pictures and images and stuff that they've been using on Twitter, kept making me give them side eye. So, you know, I think we've talked about it on here, but if you saw the one graphic that all men's teams and all these sports have been using that's like a split screen with the women's national team and then the Boston Celtics or the Dallas - it was just random.
And it was like here's men playing sports and we're supporting the women's team! It's stupid. It's a stupid graphic. And I thought graphics couldn't get stupider, except today, Bleacher Report came through with a hashtag, #onenationoneteam and an image. I'm trying to describe this image.
Jessica: Yeah. Good luck. Go ahead.
Amira: It's an image. And so there's like an American flag and then there's images of women on the team, Pinoe's there with her bright hair and, you know. And then behind one row of women are an assortment of absolutely random people.
Jessica: Yeah! Just random people.
Amira: And when I say random, I mean absolutely random. There's Obama, Jay-Z and Beyonce are on it, Kobe's on it for god knows why, Oprah, and not to be outdone by like, you know, real people, there's also Iron Man and Captain Marvel!
Amira: You know, there's not even the full 23 members of the team who won, but there's Iron Man. So anyways, it just to me smacked of the stupidest way to be like, "Hi we're cool too, we're tweeting about this, #onenationoneteam" like full stop. Like if you don't have content and you can't do it, not tweeting is a fuckin' option. First of all. Second of all, you're taking this “one nation, one team” shit a little too far. How about you celebrate the 23 people who actually were on the pitch, were actually on the team, before you start putting people including fictional characters or people who you know have harmed women on this weird American flag image.
It's not celebratory. I don't know what it is. You know, I do know what it is. It's a whole mess and I want to burn it down.
Jessica: Burn! Shireen, what are you burning?
Shireen: Oh my God. I'm not burning Kawhi Leonard for leaving Toronto Raptors because I wish him well and I love him and Danny Green as well.
Jessica: Aww, you're such a big person.
Shireen: I just wanted to - I just love people. And they did tremendous things.
Lindsay: This is the upset of the century.
Shireen: This is– I'm going to cry like a baby later, but I'm going to focus on my burn because I'm still mad about this. So we have been very focused on the women's World Cup, obviously. But the women's rugby Super Series is actually happening right now in San Diego and some of the teams participating are Canada, England, France, and the United States, along with the Black Ferns, New Zealand, which is probably the strongest rugby squad in the entire world.
Now what I'm burning specifically are the conditions at the Super Series. So don't be misguided to think that Super Series means the accommodations - this is basically something out of Sky Blue once upon a time. They're using a tent as a changing room and using a portable toilet and there's no seating for fans. So this was reported by rugbypass.com and a former Black Ferns star, Melodie Robinson, had spoken out against it. Melodie had played I think from the mid-90s to 2000s, early 2000s, and she actually said that in the quote, "In 1996 we went to the Churchill Cup in Canada and we played in a field with no seats. Nobody watched. We did stay in a nice hotel though. Back in '96, we had better conditions than the 2019's Black Ferns have."
So then the English federation came out, rugby federation, said they're fine with the conditions in San Diego and they didn't really care. But the problem is is that just saying that you don't care is probably a result of a federation of men controlling it that just simply do not care. Now these women are incredible. Like they are working really hard to get some type, and we're not even talking about prize money, we're not at that level. We're talking about working toilets and showers and places for people to cheer them on. How are people supposed to come and support if there's no place for them?
And rugby matches go a pretty long time, so to expect people to bring fold-up chairs or just stand for hours or just - it's ridiculous. I want to burn this. I'm really disappointed. Mad solidarity and respect to the athletes, but I want to burn this to the ground.
Jessica: After all that burning, it's time to celebrate some remarkable women in sports this week with our Badass Women of the Week segment. First up, our honorable mentions. Finnish hockey player and former CWHL Clarkson Cup champion, Venla Hovi, has been hired by the Winnipeg Jets to be a coach in the junior hockey development program. The Netherlands women's national team, the World Cup runners up and their first World Cup final, and only their second World Cup appearance ever!
Special shout out to Sari van Veenendaal, their captain and goalkeeper, who was awarded the Golden Glove. Also, congratulations to Sweden on their third place finish in the tournament, and to England's Lucy Bronze and Ellen White who claimed the Silver Ball and Bronze Boot awards respectively. Germany's Giulia Gwinn was given the Young Player award and France's national women's team took home the Fair Play award. We also want to recognize Sue Bird this week for her beautiful love letter at the Player's Tribune in defense of her girlfriend, Megan Rapinoe, Our badass woman of the week last week.
If you haven't read it, really you should just pause this right now. Go Google it to find it. But if you're more patient than that, we'll have it in the show notes for you. And since we are on the topic, one more shout out to all the queer love that we saw this year at the women's World Cup. Okay. Can I get a drum roll please?
Okay. So we actually have two this week! First, our badass woman of the week is actually a badass girl of the week because it is 15 year old Cori Coco Gauff, the US tennis phenom who qualified for Wimbledon then beat her idol, Venus Williams, in the first round, and has stormed into the second week of the tournament. She's playing phenomenally well. Seems to be rolling with the tidal wave of attention and fandom that has sprung up around her and has, you know, y'all this is important, amazing, joyful parents to boot.
Amira: I love them.
Jessica: And then, this week only, we have a badass team of the week who is obviously the US women's national team, four-time and back to back World Cup champions! Congratulations to Megan Rapinoe, winner of both the Golden Ball and Golden Boot award. Rose Lavelle, for the Bronze Ball, and Alex Morgan for the Silver Boot. But really it was a team effort. Every field player was on the pitch at some point during the tournament. Nine of them scored goals. They never once trailed the entire time. They were outspoken in the best ways, celebrated appropriately and with panache, and were relentless in their pursuit of the title. Badasses to the core.
Okay. What's good with y'all? Lindsay, what's good?
Lindsay: Okay. Rose Lavelle's tweets are really good.
Lindsay: I'm really enjoying them. If you haven't checked Rose Lavelle's twitter history, I urge you to go do it. I finally found pictures of the Megan Rapinoe/Sue Bird celebratory kiss. So that's very good. I just shared it on my twitter. People Magazine came through. Everybody else failed, so you know. But also I have some personal news I'm excited to share with Flamethrowers.
Lindsay: Some of you might have seen this on Twitter this week, but I am going to be writing a book with Beacon Press, the fabulous team over at Beacon who I just am so excited to be working with. And it's going to be on female athlete activism! So it's going to be focused on this current era of activism in women's sports and I've been lucky enough to have front row seats and reported firsthand on, you know, everything from the Planned Parenthood night the Seattle Storm had to the Black Lives Matter protest and media blackouts in the WNBA to, you know, the night Megan Rapinoe tried to take a knee against the Washington Spirit, but the owner, you know, shut down. Refused to play the anthem.Kept them in the locker room.
So I feel like over the past four years I've just been incredibly blessed to have a front row seat to so many of these amazing moments of activism and I'm really excited to go back and relive those. Of course all the equal pay stuff that we've been covering and I do hope, I think it's something that if you like this podcast, you will enjoy, so stay tuned and I have to thank my co-hosts, who as I have been trying to figure out how to do this and make this a reality after wanting to do it for a couple years now, they all supported me as I was the most obnoxious and annoying person in the world. So very grateful for this group.
Jessica: Yay! Well that's a what's good for all of us. We are excited about your book. Brenda.
Brenda: Not to, you know, be too mushy, but I was remembering -
Amira: Be mushy!
Brenda: I was remembering the last women's world Cup is when I really, really met Shireen and Jessica and I started with all these hosts kind of checking them out, but I didn't have them to talk to about it with. And it was way less fun. So I'm super grateful for having this and for having all the interaction that we do with like the followers and the listeners. So that was a big, you know, as the World Cup came to an end, that was a very fuzzy, grateful feeling for me and I guess what's also going to be good is that I'm going to do my dishes and laundry and mow the lawn because I'm looking at my lawn right now and it's really bad.
So yeah, because do remember as a Latin Americanist too, I've been all wrapped up in Copa America, and now the Mexico-US Final today. Basically my life has been just completely surrounding this ridiculous soccer ball game. So I guess what's good is I'll finally not live in a pigsty.
Jessica: Yay. That sounds great.
Jessica: Yay. So I'm excited, by the time you all hear this it'll be over, but tomorrow we're recording on Sunday and tomorrow's Manic Monday at Wimbledon. Everyone plays, it's just - if you're a tennis fan, it's one of the best days of the year and I'm excited to watch. I'll probably get up whenever it starts. I have to look to see how early it will get going, but I'll be doing that all day tomorrow. I'm excited to get back into the WNBA. Like I have really been in a one tunnel of soccer for a month now and I need to get back into WNBA and I have been rewatching Veronica Mars because on July 26th will be season four.
And I deeply, deeply love Veronica Mars. I watched the movie last weekend and now I'm actually going to watch the three seasons and I'm just oh! It just makes me very happy. Amira, what's good with you?
Amira: Yeah, so this past - first of all, we won the World Cup. So that's my good. But beyond that, I got to go to New York. So there is a woman who I write about in my historical work named Toni Stone. I write about her and two other women who played baseball in the negro leagues in the 50s. And so Toni Stone, they actually made a play about her based on Martha Ackmann's book that is just about Toni Stone and her life. And so I got to go on Friday because I'm doing a review of it for a historical journal. And I took Samari with me 'cause she just happened to be there, but anyways.
It turned out to be a lovely evening. It was amazing to see a historical actor that you've spent years and years writing about and listening to interviews with and I'm just kind of digging through her relatively obscure life. It's just a surreal experience to see her brought to life on stage. Special shout out to April Matthis who is absolutely phenomenal as Toni. So that was just remarkable. It was a remarkable experience and it made me all warm and fuzzy because Brenda actually published my article on Toni. In a special issue journal that she was co-editing and it just was a wonderful moment all around.
Jessica: That sounds lovely! Wow. Shireen. What’s good with you.
Shireen: I love my Burn It All Down co-hosts. I love you all. I'm grateful for you. You made this experience what it is, what it was. I also really loved the Mulan live action trailer.
Amira: Oh my gosh!
Shireen: I am slightly obsessed with it and it's important to me. At first I was like, "I don't want live action!" But I do. I want all the people of color in all the Disney movies and I want them to be redone and re-interpreted and I'm so there for that. I cannot wait for that movie to come out. Liu Yifei is just amazing and I don't know anything about her but I'm going to actually, now that my obsession has just sort have come to an end, I'm going to focus on this. I sent my third guy off, Sallahuddin. It's his birthday on Friday and he is going to an Ontario, all-Ontario volleyball camp. So he's at Nipissing University in North Bay which is about three hours and he left and I was just having all these feelings because I love him and I, you know, stifled some tears because when my babies go, even though he's six foot five, he's my baby.
But you know, I wish him the best and I'm so proud of him. I also had lunch with an old childhood friend who lives in California and I met up with her today and it was so great to see her. Farah, I love you so much. And that's about it. I also wanted say I'm drawing a lot of love and strength and happiness from Serena Williams and Andy Murray at Wimbledon and I just - I'm not a tennis person. Like obviously I defer to Jess and Lindsay on that. But Serena, I love you so much. And just seeing Andy Murray be blessed to be in the same space as you, so I'm grateful for that opportunity 'cause he's a good egg.
But just the joy that you guys bring and the combination of this is just - it's so much fun to see for someone who's not an avid tennis fan. I will become one if this becomes a thing thing. So Coco Gauff and I'm interested. So there's a lot of good things and of course, Andy. Of course.
Jessica: Yes. I do want to add on two last things. I want to give a shout out, 'cause this made my day good, to the people in Lyon, France, in a bar who were on Fox News and as soon as they went to the live shot in the bar, they started chanting, "Fuck Trump."
Shireen: That was so good.
Jessica: So that made me feel good and then to the people in the stadium who chanted "equal pay" when Infantino walked on. Those are both what's good for me today.
So that's it for this week's episode. Thank you all for joining us. You can find Burn It All Down on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. If you want to subscribe to Burn It All Down, you can do so on Apple Podcasts, SoundCloud, Stitcher, Google Play, and Tune In. And Spotify. For information about the show and links and transcripts for each episode, check out our website burnitalldownpod.com. You can also email us from the site to give us feedback. We'd love to hear from you.
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As Brenda says, burn on, not out. Until next week.