Runtime: 105 minutes
Directors: Sean Fine, Andrea Nix Fine
By Joan Amenn
It seemed the world was united in rejoicing for the U.S. Women’s World Cup win of 2019. The truth is, even the U.S. Soccer Federation was not completely supportive of the team, and hadn’t been since their inception in the 1990’s. The ugly lawsuit that was the result of the blatant sexism and inequality perpetuated on the women’s team is the focus of this inspiring documentary. And make no mistake, these women are as much a force to be reckoned with today as they were in 2019, if not more so.
Megan Rapinoe has become an icon not only as a professional athlete but as an activist. However, the whole of the U.S. Women’s team each profess their dedication to each other and their cause repeatedly in the film. Oscar winning partners Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine do an excellent job of shining the spotlight on many of the teammates so that they all can be a voice for their fight for equality. There is also an important context given as to just how long this battle has been brewing, going back to the early days of the women’s soccer team when they were not offered the same contractual opportunities as the men’s team was.
As a matter of fact, it is just staggering to learn how much inequality these ladies had to put up with from the U.S. Soccer Federation. A key point raised is that the money earned from various competitions and rankings that FIFA paid out was given to the Federation to allocate, not to the teams themselves. The women consistently winning meant that they may have earned more than the men in some years but that level of financial compensation was based on their near superhuman ability on the field. In other words, women have to work harder and more than men to have parity. Not a unique situation by any means but the women embrace their cause as representatives for all women and all the underrepresented, not just female athletes. This is the generosity of spirit to put themselves out in public as advocates that ignited worldwide support.
Unfortunately, being recognized by the world as athletic and advocating champions does not necessarily translate into legal standing before a court. The women’s team won a key part of their case in gaining some equality in some aspects of their contract but not in actual compensation. That fight is ongoing and the team seems not at all daunted by the prospect of continuing to stand together against their employer. As a matter of fact, their rallying cry as a team, “LFG” becomes their motto for their lawsuit. Admittedly, if the words the letters represent are spoken someone’s mother is likely to be offended, but it is nonetheless very effective.
The documentary really brings home how callous and abrasive the treatment of the U.S. Federation has been with a team who should have been the jewel in the crown of their organization and treated accordingly. It also gives a little insight into how hard it is to maintain any kind of a normal life as a professional athlete, particularly for women. It almost seems as if the U.S. Federation has decided to delay dealing with the key part of the pending lawsuit in the hopes that support for the team will fade and they will be more likely to settle. These strong women are united in their commitment to their cause just as much as they are committed on the field, so the viewer can decide who they would bet on in this fight.