Despite winning last year's World Cup, the Japanese women's national soccer team couldn't escape economy class on their Japan Airlines flight from Tokyo to Paris this week—despite the men's national team riding in business class.
The BBC reports Japan has placed its men's team in business class since 1996, while the women have only once earned an upgrade—on their trip home from Germany after winning last year's championship. The Japan Football Association responds the women did get an upgrade for their Olympic trip, to "premium economy."
That's still economy, and the men are still in business class. So far, the explanation seems to be that since men's team members are internationally-known professionals, they need to be separated from dirty commoners; since most Japanese women's team members are semi-pro, they don't need the perks.
When the women arrived in Paris, they weren't happy. As reigning world champs, they're a favorite to win gold; the men, meanwhile, aren't expected to medal at all. "It should have been the other way around," argued women's team star Homare Sawa. "Even just in terms of age, we are senior." (In case you're wondering, the U.S. women's national team seems to choose airline seating class on a case-by-case basis.)
h/t to Caitlin