Japan’s women national football team members travelled to Europe for the Olympics in economy class, while their presumably less-successful male colleagues took the business seats in the same airplane.
The women national team, dubbed Nadeshiko Japan, is world champion and among the favourites to win the gold medal at the Olympics competition. The male team, which has under-23 players and can take along up to three over-aged players, is seen as an outsider in the quest for medals.
“I guess it should have been the other way around,” said with a smile Homare Sawa, 33, the women team’s captain, referring to the seats that her team got in the airplane. “Even just in terms of age, we are senior,” she said.
The women competition imposes no age limitation on players, but few teams comprise only professionals.
“When we won the World Cup, our seats were changed to business class for our return flight,” Sawa added. “I hope we can produce a good result again and be treated the same way.”
Nadeshiko will play the first game against Canada on July 25, in a group that also includes Sweden and South Africa.