The gap in quality between the men's and women's game is quite frankly embarrassing
Someone had to say it.
The Women's World Cup kicked off last Friday to unprecedented fanfare. This may be the eighth tournament in the competition's history, but never before has there been such hype and excitement around the pinnacle of the women's game.
Indeed some suggest that it could prove to be something of a tipping point. The media, corporate sponsors, football's governing body, and some of the world's biggest clubs have focused hugely overdue exposure on the action in France.
Ticket sales have passed one million, with 45,261 cramming into Parc des Princes for the tournament opener. Meanwhile, a whopping 6.1 million viewers tuned in to watch England vs Scotland on BBC One. The public appetite is certainly there.
— FootballJOE (@FootballJOE) June 10, 2019
And yet, in spite of the fact that the men's and women's games are quite clearly worlds apart in terms of resource, establishment, support, heritage, awareness, equality and coverage, many on social media seem intent on comparing the two.
The very notion is of course ridiculous in its false equivalence. What the past week has shown to be painfully true is that the 'gap' is more a gaping chasm, and any comparisons only evidence the embarrassing disparity in overall quality.
It can be clearly evidenced too. You'll no doubt have seen examples on your timeline of cringeworthy gaffes and the most basic failures in technique. Any pretensions these players have of 'world-class' stature are quite frankly laughable.
Take Romelu Lukaku's comical attempts at a finish against Scotland, where he somehow manages to play a one-two with his own standing foot. It would very literally have been easier to score. Would Alex Morgan have missed such a simple chance?
— Arunav Godara (@GodaraArunav) June 11, 2019
Then there's John Stones' hospital pass to Ross Barkley against the Netherlands, whose own tepid backpass gifted the Dutch a place in the Nations League final. This was preceded by mistakes by both Stones and Matthijs De Ligt earlier in the game.
Again these defensive errors exemplify why any comparisons between the men's and women's games are cruelly unfair. If only Stones had Lucy Bronze's composure, or Barkley could boast the spatial awareness of Chelsea colleague Maren Mjelde.
It could be argued that taking such clips in isolation is disingenuous and a blatant attempt to undermine the men's game. Lukaku, for instance, went on to score two goals against the Scots, whilst John Stones has just finished an historic season at Manchester City.
But who needs context when you can cherry-pick singular mistakes and use them to undermine an entire gender of sportspeople? What can a storied career of commitment, resilience and pioneering achievement tell you that 10 seconds of hilarity cannot? Plus you can show off how funny and original you are in the process.
The gap in quality between the men's and women's football is quite frankly embarrassing... or those who desperately try to force the comparison to undermine equality are, at least. One of the two.