Sexism and soccer: Japan’s women fly economy, men business

Published On July 19, 2012 | By Jill Saftel

Japan’s women’s soccer team is peeved, and they may have a right to be. The 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup champions flew premium economy class to Paris, while the men’s soccer team flew business class – and they have since the 1996 Games.

According to a report from the BBC, the Japan Football Association has been funding the men’s flights because of their professional status, while the women are considered semi-pro. The women are reigning World Cup champions and in contention for the gold medal, while the men are not expected to place.

The women were given business class seats last year, but only after defeating the U.S. to win the World Cup. This year, Japan’s Olympic Committee gave most athletes economy class seats with a few exceptions.

“I guess it should have been the other way around,” captain Homare Sawa told Japanese media.

At 33 years old, Sawa is the oldest Japanese athlete to compete in soccer this year and London marks her fourth Olympic Games. She joked that even if just in terms of age, the women’s team ranks senior.

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About The Author

Jill studies journalism at Northeastern University, covers Hockey East for College Hockey News and is the sports editor for The Huntington News. You can follow her on Twitter at @jillsaftel, just don't ask her to choose between hockey and baseball, it's impossible.