Orlando Pride Coach On Equal Pay: U.S. Women Shouldn’t ‘Sell Out’

You probably didn’t know who the Orlando Pride coach was when you clicked on this article. Given his recent comments and his club’s appalling performance this season, you probably won’t need to know his name much longer.

Orlando Pride coach Marc Skinner, 36, was hired in January after a few years leading Birmingham City in England’s top flight. Despite having two of the best strikers in the world in Alex Morgan and Marta, the Central Florida club sits dead last in the NWSL, even behind the disaster that is Sky Blue FC

In an interview with the BBC published Tuesday, Skinner spoke on a range of subjects, from his wife and former England defender Laura Bassett to how he isn’t afraid of being fired and the USWNT players’ fight for equal pay. The latter of those topics resulted in some shocking comments.

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‘I don’t care about money’

Skinner put on a brave face in saying he does not fear the axe should Pride management decide that failing to win any of the team’s first nine games or winning four of the first 18 games or scoring just 19 goals is not good enough with a squad that includes Morgan, Marta, Ashlyn Harris and Ali Krieger (hint: it’s not).

“If the management are not happy with the way that you do things then it’s their entitlement to fire you,” Skinner said. “If I get fired, I go again. All I know is, and this is the only time I’ll sound arrogant, whoever has me as a manager is going to be very lucky because of how much I care about the club that I’m at.

“I’m not just in it for money. I don’t care about money. I care about building something that's beautiful.

“I have to be all in or not at all. If they want to sack me that's their prerogative but what I’ve found with this club is that they want success and they’ve been very, very supportive. They know it’s going to take time.”

So a team would be lucky to have a coach who can’t get a team with Morgan and Marta to score more than a goal per game?

Oh, and it wasn’t actually the only time he sounded arrogant.

“I try to create art rather than football,” he said. “I want to create something nobody’s done before. My legacy of life isn’t winning a trophy. Believe it or not, I wouldn’t sit at home and look at how many trophies I’ve got. Just winning isn’t enough for me.

“I want to create beautiful things that nobody’s seen before. I want to push the boundaries because if I’ve only got one life; I want to make sure I do something great with it.”

Well, Skinner has one thing right, he won’t be looking at his trophy case because he has never won anything.

As cringeworthy as those quotes are from a coach who’s in last place, the words don’t compare to what he said next in regard to equal pay.

‘I’d still love to see the women do something the men haven’t done’

After making excuses that he lost a lot of his players to the Women’s World Cup — this is true, but so did all NWSL clubs — the Orlando Pride coach talked about the equal pay argument among men and women’s footballers. 

His response was bizarre, saying women shouldn’t worry about money because the beauty of the women’s game is the purity of it all. 

“I’m not going to go into the equal pay row because I think that I’d still love to see the women do something the men haven’t done, and that is to continue to love football not just for the money but for the love of the game,” Skinner said. “I think that’s the purity of women’s football, I really do.

“I think they have something beautiful that they should look after and cherish and not just sell out to that.”

I’m sorry, you don’t think the women should get caught up in being paid for equal work because they should just play for the love of the game? And that women must play for the love of the game because apparently no men have ever done that?

What the actual fuck? Was something lost in translation from English to American?

I honestly had to check the BBC website about half-a-dozen times to make sure this wasn’t some piece from The Onion that had somehow wound up on BBC.com, so outlandish were some of these statements from the Orlando Pride coach. 

Skinner did eventually argue women should get more money, but for an odd reason.

“But I also think they need to be paid to be respected and supported like that,” Skinner said. “These people give everything. I don’t think people appreciate that when a man retires from his football career he can go and sit at home and go on a yacht or do other things. Women here sacrifice a lot and they still go on to become mothers and get other careers.

“I hope the exposure of the World Cup continues and that it continues to grow. But I still hope that the females keep the love and the purity of their game.”

This washed-up goalkeeper who never went pro is talking about men retiring to their yachts and women retiring to be moms. I’m so confused.

Look, people are entitled to their own opinions, especially around a contentious issue such as equal pay in sports. Given the disparity in prize money awarded by FIFA and money generated by World Cups, you can see where people are coming from who argue against equal pay, even if you disagree with it. 

But to say women shouldn’t try to get paid more because women’s sports have more “purity” is ludicrous and misogynistic. 

English women’s players ‘have more football ability’ than Americans

For good measure, after it all, Skinner said English players are better than Americans at women’s soccer. This despite the fact that, you know, the U.S. has won four Women’s World Cups while England hasn’t even made it to a final.

“I would have really liked England to have been successful, being my home nation, but the one thing I know from my experience here is that America has winners,” Skinner said in regard to the WWC semifinal between England and the U.S. “They have a winning culture. They’re bred to win and they’re born to win.”

Clearly Skinner has never seen the U.S. men’s national team play. Alas, he continued.

“I think it’s overlooked that most of the players here travel state-to-state to go to university,” the Orlando Pride coach said. “When I look at a 20-year-old here compared to a 20-year-old in England, although they may have more football ability and have been exposed to first-team environments earlier in England, here they’re women.

“Because of the things that American female athletes are exposed to they become stronger and more mature. It’s the mental strength between that league and this league which is a real key difference.

“I still think England are tactically better — definitely — and all-round more technically efficient than most Americans, but I think that psychologically they’ll have to go a long way to be like the American women.”

Sure, I can agree that the American women are mentally stronger than just about any other team in the world (their record speaks for itself). But to say English players are technically and tactically more adept than Americans seems an odd choice when there is such a gulf in accomplishments between the two nations. England is improving, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves here; it takes more than a psychological edge to win back-to-back Women’s World Cups.

Fortunately, we probably won’t have to call Marc Skinner the Orlando Pride coach for much longer. Then he can go back to England and say some more crazy shit. Maybe he’ll write a memoir about how Alex Morgan and Marta aren’t good enough to play his brand of art.