Winning a FIFA Women's World Cup earns you a lot of perks. A business-class seat for the 13-hour flight from Tokyo to Paris isn't one of them. Japan's women's Olympic soccer team learned that lesson earlier this week.
While their less-heralded male counterparts spent the flight kicking it up in business class, the women players were relegated to economy seating (albeit economy premium seating) for their shared flight to the London Olympics, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Team captain and FIFA women's soccer player of the year Homare Sawa was less than pleased.
"It should have been the other way around. Even in terms of age, we are senior," Sawa said.
Japan Football Association president, Junji Ogura, didn't seem too concerned.
On Wednesday, Ogura stated that the women's team will have to be wearing gold medals to even be in consideration for business class seating on the return trip. The men's team, which is not expected to win anything, will be there regardless.
One would imagine the worst part of the experience has to be the walk past the men's team on the way back to coach. There are few things more infuriating than the smug contentedness of a first-class passenger sitting cross-legged with a glass of wine as you trudge back into the unknown wilderness that lies behind the curtain. Being a member of the reigning world champion and gold medal favorite squad only adds insult to injury.
Another team upset at perceived logistical sexism is the Australian women's basketball squad. Much like the Japanese female soccer team, the "Opals" sat in coach from Australia to London while the men's team, the "Boomers," sat in business class.
In this case, the Australian basketball governing body, Basketball Australia, cited the difference in average height of the roster — 78 inches for the men's team, 72 inches for the women's — as the rationale for the different seating.
While they may have been slighted in terms of airplane seating, women have the honor of playing the first (and possibly finest) soccer at this summer's Olympics. The preliminary phase of the tournament gets underway Wednesday, July 25th with the men beginning the next day.
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