Stadium entry: It’s something I take for granted as a female sports fanatic growing up in the United States of America. As a twenty-four year old woman, not only have I been allowed to enter stadiums, I have been afforded the ability to play games in iconic stadiums across our country and broadcast for various male sports teams in press boxes of stadiums.
However, across the world, just the act of entering a stadium is currently a once in a lifetime opportunity. Iranian women were allowed in Azadi stadium on Wednesday, June 20th, to watch a televised World Cup match…. for the first time in 37 years. In case you didn’t know, women in Iran are not allowed to enter stadiums, but this week, female fans were unprecedentedly allowed entry to cheer for their national team in the 2018 World Cup.
Sports are once again acting as a platform for change. Iranian women have used the World Cup to protest against their ban. While sports are just one of many small pieces that make up culture, sports can garner the attention necessary to start working towards solutions to serious problems and in this case that problem is women’s rights.
Let’s take women’s soccer in the United States. The U.S. women’s team beat Japan back in July of 2015 to win the World Cup. This game also marks the most-watched soccer match in American history. The popularity for the sport shot up during this time as Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan, Abby Wambach, Megan Rapinoe, and the rest of the 2015 roster became role models to young girls and celebrities to sports fans across the world. TV sponsorships, endorsement dollars, parades, ticket sales, apparel sales, and the likes multiplied in number. All of this excitement drew attention to the fact that these women, as professional athletes, were not making the money they deserved.
In 2015, each team in the national women’s soccer league had a salary cap of $265,000. In 2018, the salary cap per team is now $350,000. It’s not much growth, but it’s some growth. The beauty of this statement is that the conversation surrounding this issue has resulted in some change.
Obviously the issue of salary and the issue of even being let into a stadium are on completely different spectrums, but they are both issues that deserve attention. In the US, we have to continue to fight for the rights of women and be an example for others in the world. We have to continue to show off that we are fighting and speaking up, so that other women can fight and speak up. I pray that one day women in Iran will be able to freely enter stadiums and enjoy sports the way I have been able to as an American citizen.