Dear Sports Reporters of the World,
Marta Vieira da Silva, Brazilian football star and one of the greatest women players ever, is the highest goal-scorer in the history of the Women’s World Cup and an all-around awesome sportsperson. We get that. But please can we not call her “female Pele” or “Pele in a skirt” or whatever it is that’s supposed-to-be-a-compliment-but-really-really-isn’t?
Same for US striker Alex Morgan. We don’t want to know why you think she can be the “female Lionel Messi” of women’s soccer. ESPECIALLY when you go on to say that Morgan is “not the same kind of player as Messi.”
We get it. You think these ladies are awesome, and you’re trying to prove it by comparing them to the awesome men that you know in football, but please. Try a little harder. Maybe next time, try stopping after calling Vivianne Miedema “the most gifted in Europe”, instead of bunging in “the Arjen Robben of the women’s game” at the end.
Here’s what Miedema said to FIFA.com said when asked about the comparison in March this year: “Yeah, I get that a lot. […] But Arjen plays very differently to me. It’s really cool to be compared to him but, as a woman, it’s a bit strange to always be compared to a man. I’m Vivianne Miedema and I don’t play like men do.”
Women get compared to men footballers more often than you’d imagine (and sometimes do it themselves, too). But while you’re fighting the urge to talk about men when you’re talking about women’s football, also try and resist referring to how “demure” a female sportsperson is when writing up an interview. And maybe think twice before using super-fluffy clickbait headlines for a Q&A with the striker who just scored the fastest hat-trick in Women’s World Cup history.
Come on, now. Let’s all hold hands, and say it together three times: “I promise to try harder. I promise to try harder. I promise to try harder.”