Women’s football untimely recalls the ugly side with “Dubai-Gate”

Women’s football is generally quite enjoyable.

That’s not to say condescendingly – but in a world where the men’s game has steadily drifted into a cacophony of madness with unattainable club wealth, sky-high salary packages, and mind-boggling TV deals, the women’s game can sometimes be nice. , anchored and calming antidote.

Gamers tend to come across as fairly ordinary and relatable, diving and cheating are rarely a topic of discussion and homophobia is not often an issue.

Arsenal Women v Manchester City Women: WSL
Sympathy has been an attraction for women’s football | Catherine Ivill / Getty Images

In the past 18 months, the most controversial incident to take place at the top of women’s football, the incident that sparked genuine and genuine anger from fans has been the hugely controversial issue of the celebrations. How dare the United States have the audacity to celebrate breaking a World Cup record against Thailand? How dare Alex Morgan have a funny party against England? It’s almost nothing worthy of a Panorama documentary.

But during the Christmas holidays of 2020 and beyond, the women’s game really pissed off fans.

A number of players from a selection of WSL clubs traveled to Dubai during their winter break, some caught COVID-19 and, as a result, matches were postponed.

No one has broken the laws – but that’s pretty much their only defense.

Millions of pounds have been pumped into the WSL to keep it going during the pandemic, and all professional footballers are in a privileged position where they can still do their jobs and see their teammates on a daily basis while the rest of the country is in. chaos.

Obviously, traveling to a foreign country increased the risk of catching COVID. For fans, some of these players are no longer seen as the everyday people to tell that they once perceived to be – no everyday individual is coming to the UAE during a global pandemic.

Going to Dubai in the first place leaves a lot to be desired morally given the UAE’s horrendous record of LGBT rights coupled with the number of openly gay players in women’s football – but that’s another conversation.

The behavior of the players was the first thing to portray the women’s game in a rather negative light. The response from the clubs and the league has continued in the same vein.

Manchester United manager Casey Stoney remains the only person to apologize for the incident, saying allowing her players to travel to Dubai was a “bad error in judgment” on her part.

From the rest of the league, the silence has been deafening.

The positive tests subsequently resulted in a number of games being postponed as clubs cannot name a 14-day squad due to COVID-related reasons.

Bristol City had five self-isolating first-team players ahead of the November clash with Manchester City, but the FA refused their requests to postpone the game. Birmingham was forced to play for a 13-team against Aston Villa the following week. Carla Ward had just 10 fit players for Sunday’s home game against Tottenham but a request to postpone the game was denied. The Blues had to withdraw from the match.

Meanwhile, Manchester City and Arsenal have both been given permission to postpone their fixtures, although their players are arguably responsible for their positive tests because they enjoyed a vacation.

The WSL’s complicated COVID rules have effectively allowed top teams in the league to withdraw from matches at their leisure, while smaller teams in the division must continue playing even if they are barely able to field a squad. .

It’s not just the gulf between supporters and players that the Dubai Gate has revealed – it’s the gulf between the WSL elite and the rest.