Darren Eales appeared on 92.9 The Game Tuesday afternoon in the wake of a bombshell report by The Guardian in which Frank de Boer expressed controversial sentiments regarding compensation discrimination between men and women in sports.
“I think for me, it’s ridiculous,” De Boer told The Guardian when asked about the plans for equal pay. “It’s the same like tennis. If there 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 to [earn] 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.
Eales responded to the comments in no uncertain terms on the team’s flagship local Atlanta sports-talk radio station.
“Let me be clear from the start that this was Frank’s individual opinion on that topic,” Eales told 92.9 The Game’s Carl Dukes and Mike Bell. “It certainly doesn’t reflect the position of the club. To be crystal clear, our club is now and always will be in supporting equality of strong values and lifting each other up. We want to grow the game of soccer for all to enjoy, and that’s what we stand for. As you guys know, that’s the value that Arthur [Blank] is known for, and it’s really the core of his personal and business philosophy.
“I mean look, he used the word ‘ridiculous,’ which got the headlines, and that was a poor, misguided use of the word. I think that with English being his second or third language, sometimes his words get misinterpreted. But nevertheless, those were unwise words to use and Frank will have to explain his comments. I don’t believe the headline actually represented his true position on the topic.”
It’s a strong statement from Eales as a representative of both the club and its visionary and owner Arthur Blank. Few individuals have been as vital to progress both economically and socially in Atlanta as the Atlanta United’s owner, and these comments are sure to have upset him and everyone in the team’s executive leadership group (let alone many of its fans).
Update: Aug. 14, 1:37 p.m.
Wednesday afternoon, just hours before Atlanta United is scheduled to kick off the Campeones Cup final, Frank de Boer offered clarification of his reported quotes to Doug Roberson of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
FdB statement from #atlutd:— Doug Roberson (@DougRobersonAJC) August 14, 2019
“I’d like to clarify my comments in yesterday’s Guardian story. 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 US.
“I do believe when it comes to the economics of the game, as popularity keeps increasing it will lead to increased revenue and higher salaries in the women’s game, which is fantastic and what we all want to see.— Doug Roberson (@DougRobersonAJC) August 14, 2019
”I am proud to be a part of a club that embraces equality, and I apologize for any distraction this has become for our team and organization.” -- Frank de Boer— Doug Roberson (@DougRobersonAJC) August 14, 2019