The Football and Society Podcast

'A rich white kid sport'? Rising inequality in women's soccer in the USA

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Episode notes

In 2018, statistics showed that nearly 400,000 girls in the US played high-school soccer, making it the fourth most-played sport among girls. However, those playing the sport skew towards those who live in areas that are whiter, less black or Latino, more suburban, and less socioeconomically disadvantaged than the national average.

In this episode, Dr Rachel Allison joins us to discuss this disparity and the extent to which soccer is 'a rich white kid sport', as former National Team player Hope Solo claimed in 2018. In the US, a key factor is the ‘pay-to-play pipeline’ where access to the youth club soccer system - a vital stepping stone - is a pathway most available to white and middle-class women from wealthier families. Even those players receiving subsidies in the form of grants and scholarships tended to come from white, affluent places with higher per capita and median household incomes.

  • Does the US education system offer any opportunities for girls from economically deprived backgrounds to engage in the sport and is the notion of a meritocracy a fallacy?
  • What are the origins of the term 'Soccer Mom' and what does it say about how soccer itself is regarded in the US compared to other sports?
  • To what extent is capitalism and the flood of money into women's soccer in the US to blame?

…all this and more in the 35th episode of the Football and Society podcast.


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Each week, Ash, Chris and Norman explore societal issues through the lens of the beautiful game. From the ethics of gambling sponsorship to what a stadium move means for fans, we’ll be covering it all each week with expert guests from the worlds of sports journalism and sociology.