Turf Debate Continues
In September 2015, as I was finishing my masters in sport for conflict resolution and social development at UOC, I was stuck, unable to decide what research question to pursue for my grand final task. As an avid football player, fan and researcher of the game, I knew that as the Women‘s World Cup was approaching, I would be very distracted by the action- filled games, the stories of the players and teams and the overall essence of the international competition.
Before the games began, I noticed that in addition to the normal media coverage on the top players and teams to watch, there were many hints of another type of conversation taking place, amongst players on their social media platforms, journalists and fans of the game. This conversation I refer to was what was commonly referred to as the ‘turf debate’ and I was intrigued by this discourse, following it diligently throughout the games in Canada and afterwards, when it led to discussions on FIFA prize money, pay inequalities and unequal treatment in various spaces within football.
As the 2019 tournament is now underway, we see that the ‘turf debate’ never ended, in fact hints of the same issues have surfaced and will continue to resurface. To me, as much as this is a clear sign that there hasn’t been much improvement in the women’s game, it is also what the players and activists wanted--- that the conversation continues. We hope to do this and contribute to this conversation with this blog.
About the Author: Marisa Schlenker is an on field sport trainer with experience delivering sport for development programs. She is a researcher, member of the Gender Hub team and develops manuals, toolkits and curricula for sport for development organizations. She loves to play football and has manged to secure tickets to see some games at the World Cup.