Atlanta United fans are on top of the world right now and rightfully so. The five stripes made one huge step toward cementing itself as an elite soccer club last evening after defeating Club America in the Campeones Cup.
ATL UTD beat the Liga MX giants 3-2 in a thrilling back-and-forth match that had the Mercedez-Benz Stadium rocking. Not only is this a momentous occasion for the Atlanta franchise but it's certainly a step in the right direction for MLS in general. Wednesday night's match will be used as one fo the first examples in the case that soccer in the United States is improving and making the right moves to catch up with its global counterparts.
That being said, the five stripes went into the match against Club America with a bit of negative press thrown their way. This was because manager Frank De Boer made some controversial comments toward the fight for equal pay in soccer when speaking to British publication 'The Guardian.'
Frank De Boer is about halfway through his debut seaosn as the new ATL UTD coach and he has one heck of an act to follow after Tata Martino left Atlanta in the off season.
One can say De Boer and the team got off to a rocky start from the beginning.
The results just weren't there but as of late, the Dutch manager has definitely turned things around and ATL UTD faithful have warmed up to his ways thanks to some crucial victories.
The former Dutch international told the Guardian that this fight for equal pay for female soccer players is "ridiculous." He went on to say, "It’s the same like tennis. If [they] are watching, for the World Cup final, 500 million people or something like that, and 100 million for a women’s final, that’s a difference. So it’s not the same. And of course they have to be paid what they deserve and not less, just what they really deserve. If it’s just as popular as the men, they will get it, because the income and the advertising will go into that. But it’s not like that, so why do they have to earn the same? I think it’s ridiculous. I don’t understand that."
De Boer's words come just weeks after the USWNT won the Women's World Cup in stunning fashion while players such as Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan were nothing short of adamant to use their patforms to discuss matters like equal pay throughout the tournament's campaign.
The Atlanta coach was forced to quickly backtrack on his comments. While speaking to the AJC the following day, De Boer attempted to clarify his statements on the issue by saying, "When taken in its full context, my position is that I wholly respect and support the women’s game and am encouraged and excited by its growth both internationally and here in the U.S."
While Atlanta United may be savoring the taste of victory after Wednesday's massive victory, question marks around De Boer and his comments from earlier in the week certanly remain.
ATL UTD returns to MLS action this Sunday on the road against the Portland Timbers at 10:00 p.m.