Female soccer players respond to list ranking their looks

THE women of a Harvard soccer team who were ranked on their looks by members of the male soccer team have responded to the international outrage with a blistering opinion piece.

Six women on the 2012 soccer team at the prestigious school teamed up to pen the article, published in Harvard's newspaper The Crimson. 

Each of the six women were among a team who were listed in a 'scouting report', now known to be a yearly event, where male soccer players used photographs stolen from social media and wrote lewd comments about the sexual appeal of the female players.

The men went as far as assigning a number to each woman and wrote comments about what their preferred sexual positions might be.

The men's soccer team has now been banned from playing for the rest of the year and heavily criticised by Harvard.

In the story they dubbed "Stronger Together, the women said the sad reality was that this type of behaviour is expected from many men.

"We are these women, we are not anonymous, and rather than having our comments taken, spun, and published behind the guise of a fake anonymity offered to us by numerous news outlets, we have decided to speak for ourselves," the piece said.

"More than anything, we are frustrated that this is a reality that all women have faced in the past and will continue to face throughout their lives. We feel hopeless because men who are supposed to be our brothers degrade us like this.

"We are appalled that female athletes who are told to feel empowered and proud of their abilities are so regularly reduced to a physical appearance.

"We have seen the "scouting report" in its entirety. We know the fullest extent of its contents: the descriptions of our bodies, the numbers we were each assigned, and the comparison to each other and recruits in classes before us."

The revelation of the 'scouting report' comes at a time of heightened awareness of inequality between men and women's sports internationally.

In Australia, the AFL this year launched a women's national league for the first time and Netball Australia signed a television deal with Channel 9.

The positive developments came at the same time much attention was on the major pay gap between men and women athletes.

In April, Cricket Australia announced a new pay deal for its women's team that would see the players become the first on a women's team to earn more than $100,000 each in Australia.

Federal sports minister Sussan Ley also campaigned in February to change a policy in some government-funded organisations that allowed professional male players to travel in a more expensive class than professional female players.