(Canada’s soccer hero Christine Sinclair (right) controls the ball at a pre-Women’s World Cup match against England in Hamilton, Ontario./Geoff Robins)
Canada, it’s finally here, and it feels like Christmas meets the Olympics! We are one week into a five-week glorious stretch of world-class soccer, happening in six cities across our fair country, totaling 52 games of sweet, sweet sport.
The timing — corruption allegations aside — couldn’t be better: women’s soccer is the first competitive team sport in North America to garner larger audiences than its male equivalent. Canadians have been coming out to matches in unprecedented numbers. And the gays? Did we mention the uber-talented queer athletes on the field?
5. It’s a proverbial buffet of gorgeous, inspiring athletes
(USA team captain Abby Wambach poses for ESPN’s 2012 body issue./ESPN screen capture)
It’s a scientific fact: the more talented an athlete is at their craft, the sexier they become. (Okay, I made the science part up, but I dare you to prove me wrong!)
The women’s soccer circuit has more openly queer athletes than any other pro team sport: USA team captain Abby Wambach looked like a Greek god in the 2012 ESPN body issue, Megan Rapinoe (USA) makes hearts swoon, Canada’s Erin McLeod (goalkeeper) is out and proud, as is Germany’s goalkeeper, Nadine Angerer, who was named FIFA Women’s World Player of 2014.
Watch out for these women and other LGBT soccer stars coming to a stadium or TV channel near you!
(Erin McLeod hopes to be a role for young girls in sport. Bob Frid/Canada Soccer)
4. By comparison, men’s international soccer is as embarrassing as it is spectacular
Although men’s soccer is impressive, there is a terrible tradition that at times makes their games downright cringe-worthy. Players are constantly faking injuries and taking pretend “falls” to the ground, with hopes of getting penalty cards being called on the other team.
3. The legendary Canada/US rivalry
The Canadian women’s soccer team has had a longtime, legendary rivalry against the Americans; that rivalry exploded at the 2012 Canada versus US Olympic semi-final match. With outrageous — some claim fixed — officiating in favour of the US team, Canada was penalized repeatedly while the US was barely chastised for clear infractions. This cost Canada the chance to play for Olympic gold (we won bronze). Which leads to reason number two . . .
2. Christine Sinclair is the most badass player in soccer — Part 1
(Though she tends to avoid the spotlight, Christine Sinclair is considered by many to be one of the top athletes in Canada./Johnmaxmena_Wikimedia)
When Canada lost against the US in the aforementioned Olympic match, team captain Sinclair was so disgusted with the bad calls that she raised her voice at one of the refs after the match, then told the media that “the ref decided the result before it started.” Here’s the kicker: even when she was later fined and suspended, Sinclair refused to apologize! This small act of defiance signaled a shift in the status quo perception of how good Canadians behave. The most beautiful part? Instead of Canada being embarrassed by her defiance, Sinclair was awarded a prestigious Canadian national award as athlete of the year a few months later.
1. Christine Sinclair is the most badass player in soccer — Part 2
It’s the stuff of legends. In the opening game of the Women’s World Cup 2011, a German player elbowed Sinclair in the nose, breaking it nearly sideways. While medical staff tried to assess the damage, Sinclair clawed and screamed, “I WANT TO PLAY” and demanded to be let back on the field. Sinclair then went on to not just play, but scored a goal while wearing a Batman-esque mask to keep her nose immobile.