On Monday, hundreds of fans crowded the Vancouver International Airport to wave Canadian flags and welcome home Christine Sinclair, the Burnaby soccer superstar and Olympic bronze medal winner.
The next time Sinclair — whose six goals is the most ever scored in soccer at one Summer Games — will be on the world's stage, she will be playing at home when Canada hosts the World Cup in 2015.
But the success of the women's team and its hardworking 29-year-old captain Sinclair comes in spite of the mother of all double standards, said Carrie Serwetnyk, one of the first women to play soccer for Canada.
"If you look around, essentially all professional club managers and coaches on the field are men. The Canadian Soccer Association didn't have a female board member for almost 100 years," said Serwetnyk, 47, who was the first woman inducted to this country's Soccer Hall of Fame and scored one goal in 17 national team appearances between 1986 and 1996.
"We are paying their salaries and then being systematically excluded from leadership opportunities and sponsorship revenues," she said.
Serwetnyk launched Why The Women's World Cup Matters, a public campaign to build awareness and criticize what she says are male-dominated soccer associations in Canada that are "profiting from and preventing women from advancing in soccer."
She launched the campaign Aug. 10, the same day the women's team was awarded bronze medals at the London 2012 Games.
"I cannot expect the soccer organizations dominated by men to really care about em-powering girls, but I'm sure they can see a profit from it. I think it's time for girls and women to be able to step up and take part in more profound roles throughout our country," she said in the announcement.
She called for an "equal share of soccer sponsorship revenues and leadership opportunities for the betterment of girls and women in Canada so that future generations can experience equality and empowerment on and off the field."
Serwetnyk lives in Vancouver and edits Free Kick, a soccer magazine for families. "Women should benefit equally from the business and leadership avenues generated from soccer, where 47 per cent of the national membership is female," said Serwetnyk. "Today, our sport is male-dominated, and despite the strong showing of Canada's national women's team, women are still treated like second-class citizens in this country."
The 2015 World Cup will be hosted in six Canadian cities, including in Vancouver at B.C. Place. The opportunity is one Serwetnyk says should help balance the gender inequities she identifies in Canadian soccer organizations and allow women to take on leadership roles.
Serwetnyk put a question about the women's World Cup to David Beckham during a locker room scrum when the international midfielder was in Vancouver with the L.A. Galaxy to play the Whitecaps July 18 for a Major League Soccer match.
"Any World Cup matters," he replied. "It's the biggest soccer event and one of the biggest sporting events in the world whether it's men's, whether it's women's. I'll definitely be watching it."
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