This is why you shouldn't ignore the Women's World Cup

June 14, 2019

Photo credit: ENGADGET  

 

1. Get with the times 

 

Alongside women's rugby, football is likewise undergoing a surge in prominence. 

 

In March, headlines were made as a record-breaking 60,739 spectators witnessed Barcelona Women's 2-0 defeat of Atletico Madrid. 

 

According to a report by Nielsen, the growing commercial value of women's football presents a wealth of opportunities - often both a cause for and marker of increasing standards and infrastructure at ground level. 

 

For instance, 84% of general sports fans surveyed declared an interest in women’s sports and on top of that, announced sponsorship deals have increased by 37% and their average monetary value by 49% between 2013 and 2017.   

 

Photo credit: AsiaOne

 

2. Less theatrics, more football

 

As an empirical observation, the cynicism, protestations, simulation and other unsavoury aspects that have come to be accepted a new normal in men's football has failed to catch on in women's football. 

 

Where the likes of Neymar and Luis Suarez are more than likely to hurl themselves to the ground even at the slightest contact - often taken as a cue for their teammates to hound the referee and plead their case en masse, it is refreshing to see their counterparts distance themselves from the 'dark arts' of the game and shake off much harsher challenges.    

 

 

3. No more hand-me-downs

 

In the past, National teams have had to use men's kits which were retrospectively tailored for their use.

 

For the first time, however, Nike have stepped up to change this by introducing jerseys made specifically for all 14 countries affiliated with Nike - a move which has elicited overwhelmingly positive feedback, with the men's cut of Australia's kit being snapped up in hours. 

 

It is a move that is symbolic of women's football gradually moving in the right direction and their effort and accomplishments gaining on parity with men. 

 

Photo credit: WWOS-Nine

 

4. Equality is at stake 

 

In the lead-up to the World Cup was hardly smooth sailing, the tournament was dealt a blow by Norway's Ada Hegerberg and her decision to boycott the tournament.

 

The gravity of Hegerberg's no-show was overwhelming, with the inaugural female Ballon D'Or winner choosing to relinquish her opportunity to fight for perhaps the greatest accolade in a footballer's career, to express her dissatisfaction with a pay gap between female and male players. 

 

It is a sentiment shared by the United States Women's squad, who are also in the midst of a lawsuit against U.S. Soccer on grounds of gender discrimination as well as attempting to defend their title. 

 

Given that coverage of women's football pales in comparison to the men, it takes global events such as the World Cup for their voices to be truly heard.

 

Photo credit: China Plus

 

5. For the love of the game

 

There are no words that truly encapsulate the beauty of football and that is ultimately what keeps fans immersed in the moment, glued to their screens and sat on the edge of their seats.  

 

That is why in isolation, the above factors alone are simply not enough. 

 

Thankfully, the 8th edition of the World Cup has been marked with fireworks and drama thus far - 34-year-old Brazilian Cristiane has made history by becoming the oldest player to score a hat-trick; the United States went into double figures with a 13-0 rout of Thailand, while Australia overcame a 2-0 deficit to prevail 3-2 against Brazil. 

 

With average goals per game sitting at a healthy 2.94 (the 2018 FIFA Men's World Cup saw 2.64 goals per game), a cagey and placid affair is the last thing you can expect while watching the 2019 Women's World Cup.     

  

 

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