WWC 2015: Standard no slight on Matildas’ win

As sure as night turns to day, any major football related achievement in Australia will be met with scorn by certain sections of the mainstream media.

The Matildas’ current World Cup campaign is no different, and Herald Sun columnist/serial attention seeker Rita Panahi got in with an opinion piece before the last 16 game against Brazil had even kicked off.

It’s important to have some context when it comes to Panahi’s commentary on the round ball game – this is the person who will block anyone who speaks sense when challenging her angle, and who The Football Sack has called out for her nonsense in the past (see here and here).

Now many will say that she should just be ignored and that her opinion doesn’t matter, but unfortunately, with The Herald Sun still seen as a credible source of news and opinion by most of Australia, it does.

The title of Panahi’s piece, which may have been written by a sub-editor (always the easiest excuse for a journalist who can’t handle the heat), is predictably provocative when it states “Watch and you’ll see. Sport is a man’s game, not a woman’s”.

The majority of the article tells us what we already know – women’s sport at the highest level is inferior to the male equivalent. And in other news, the sky is blue.

In the opening sentence, Panahi describes herself “As a sport loving lass…”, but that’s not quite true.

As she qualifies a few sentences down by stating “I prefer to watch the very best in their chosen field”, she is a glory hunter; someone only interested in the absolute pinnacle, so the AFL Grand Final, the Rugby World Cup Final, and whatever they do in cricket.

“Why would I or anybody want to watch an inferior product?,” she writes. This sort of snobbery doesn’t just apply to the differences between men’s and women’s sports, but also the varying levels within each gender.

If everybody sang from the same hymn sheet then we might as well abolish the A-League because it’s not the English Premier League, or kill off the National Basketball League as it’ll never even come close to the NBA.

Panahi also elects to throw in a red herring – the lazy sex sells argument which we have heard countless times before.

The funny thing about the Matildas though is that they haven’t been sexualised before or during the World Cup campaign, and the vast majority of public support has centred on the basics – they are a team representing their country at the highest level.

In many ways that’s refreshing to see because, as Panahi correctly points out, female athletes are often objectified.

Lastly, there is a certain amount of irony attached to Panahi’s statement that “…the media gives far less coverage to women’s sport than the men…”

Here she is with a column that attracts a national audience and rather than use it as a platform to talk up the success of a women’s team, she does her utmost to piss on the parade.

The column, when you factor in the timing of its publication, is a troll piece but at this stage we shouldn’t expect anything more from a self confessed fair weather sports fan who has a history of disparaging comments about football.

Congratulations to the Matildas on reaching a third successive World Cup quarter final, a fantastic achievement regardless of sport or gender.

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Neil has covered the Perth Glory and the Hyundai A-League for five years and is one of Western Australia's most knowledgeable football journalists.