“You have to believe in equality everywhere, one day”

9:25 on March 27, 2022

The night was short and bitter for the Lyonnaises, who returned from Turin with a defeat (2-1) in the quarter-finals first match of the Champions League, as they are due to return to Groupama Stadium on Thursday. “How do i look? “, worries Lindsey Horan the day after her first European move with Olympique Lyonnais, where she was loaned out for eighteen months in January. The American world champion, who took the lead at the age of 27, is taking society’s challenges seriously. She hopes people will one day talk more to her about her game than about her fights. Which she still agrees to tell with commitment.

After a long struggle, the American Confederation approved equal pay for men and women in February. Your biggest win?
Yes, the whole world talked about it. Millions of dollars in legal fees have been spent, non-stop Zoom meetings … It has been a nightmare to have to fight for equal treatment. Now our example must be followed, the international of other countries must put the question on the table. You have to believe in equality everywhere, one day. In all subjects. We have proven that it is possible. But the road is still very long, even at home: the American league does not yet practice equal pay.

According to The team, the average salary for Olympic players is ten times higher than for female players. What inspires you?
I did not know that the difference was so big, it’s totally wild. I fully understand that the economy of women’s football is not the same, so we need to approach the problem differently. Men’s matches generate much higher revenue because they are shown on TV. Audiences are high, so advertisers pay. But as long as our struggles are not broadcast, how can we hope to narrow the gap? As a kid, I used to be inspired by men because we did not see female soccer players on screen. It’s gotten better, but still today I tear my hair off and try to explain to my parents how to find my streaming matches.

In the United States, those who take a baby break are very supportive, not losing a dollar. Now I would like FIFA to adopt a global rule

In D1, the majority of girls would receive less than 2,000 euros a month. Would you have played football for that amount?
Yes, because it’s my whole life. Passion brings sacrifices. But that number reminds me of my best friend who in the United States has to work two extra jobs to earn a living. Her athletic body suffers. I earn more than her, simply because I am international. That is very unfair.

Your partner in Lyon Sara Björk Gunnarsdóttir has just played again four months after the birth, do you see her tested?
Not at all. What I see are his abdominal muscles! She is a great inspiration to all women. I admire him. I have heard many stories of sportswomen who have been looked down upon because they have had a child during their careers. Others have lost their feathers there, or even lost their contract. In the United States, those who take a baby break are very supportive, not losing a dollar. Now I want FIFA to issue a global rule.

What has changed since your first steps in France, from 2012 to 2016 at PSG?
I think we are being taken more seriously. Playing our European matches at Juventus Stadium, like Wednesday, or at the Camp Nou is a strong sign. Along with equality, visibility is the second cornerstone of women’s football. Development is slow, so do not give up. We need to go even further. I want the spectators to be enthusiastic about Lyon-Juve, but also about our less prestigious matches in the league.

So much the better if Lyon and PSG are fighting for the title, but other teams definitely need to develop

Your partner Ada Hegerberg, Ballon d’or in 2018, is judging the French championship “on pickup”. You understand ?
Lyon and PSG continue to win matches at seven or eight goal intervals. This was already the case during my first visit to France. This means that the quality of the teams has not improved that much in ten years. It’s a problem. Ada knows the reasons better than I do, but I trust her judgment. I watch Ligue 1 and I saw Reims, a team I did not know, win at Groupama Stadium. The hierarchy is therefore not fixed among men.

During your return to Portland, PSG came closer to Lyon and even deprived them of the league title for the first time since 2007. Is this rivalry profitable?
Always. In Portland, the derbies against Seattle are the biggest games of the season. Everyone wants to participate. But the rest of the time we also played in sparse stadiums. So much the better if Lyon and PSG are fighting for the title, but other teams definitely need to develop. This situation is not unique to France: In La Liga I see Barcelona win the matches 8-0.

Barça, Bayern, Chelsea or Manchester City are now shining in Europe. Is France still Eldorado?
In Lyon, the president has always invested in the women’s team. That is one of the characteristics of the Olympics: to care about the players and give them the right resources. Others in France must follow suit. Five years ago, Juventus had no women’s team, but there was will and quick results.

That we are not celebrating our sporting success made me angry. Social problems are inevitable, but sometimes it’s too much

The other side of the coin, your president, Jean-Michel Aulas, fears the departure of his best players. What do you think ?
The quality of the long-term project and the caliber of players make Lyon the ideal place. So much the better if there are more outlets in other countries like England. In the locker room, we are aware of the competitiveness of other countries. Chelsea, Arsenal or Manchester City rub at the top level, but that does not mean the overall level is better.

We talked about social issues, not much gambling. Will the day we come to talk to you about 4-4-2 mark another step forward?
Yes, it’s the next match. During these years of struggle for equality, has anyone ever talked about our game? Never. When we won the World Cup in 2019, the spectators shouted: “Equal pay!” That we are not celebrating our sporting success made me angry. Social problems are inevitable, but sometimes it’s too much. Tell us about football!

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