The eighth edition of the FIFA Women’s World Cup, held in France from 7 June to 7 July, definitely won millions of hearts and eyes claiming a digital breakthrough this year. The USA was declared the winner with 2-0 against the Netherlands and secure the fourth title in eight tournaments. Previously, Germany has secured the title two times, where Japan and Norway have won one time each. 24 national teams participated in the tournament where 52 matches were played in nine different cities in France. Players around the world, on and off the field, were celebrated for their spirit and passion making the whole month full of sporty energy charged with women power.
The history of Women’s football goes back to 1971 when English FA lifted the ban against women’s football. 20 Years later in 1991 FIFA started the first Women’s World Cup, way later than the first men’s world cup in 1930. With much reluctance and controversy for having women in the field, the FIFA Women’s World Cup, however, gave recognition of women’s equality in sports genre from the time. The event, however, was surrounded by controversy as it didn’t even carry the title “FIFA Women’s World Cup”. Instead, the tournament was called the “1st FIFA World Championship for Women’s Football for the M&Ms Cup” as it was sponsored by Mars Inc. There was further debate surrounding the length of both the event (only two weeks) and the duration of the matches, which were only 80 minutes long rather than the usual 90 minutes of men’s matches. However, the first FIFA match was a milestone achieved for women to highlight crucial issues in the sporting community and ensure their representation. Since then, FIFA Women’s World Cup has been one of the major events reinstating women’s representation and bringing to light women equality in sports.
As such, FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019 was also full of inspirational moments. The first day of the FIFA Women’s Football Convention 2019 was packed with fantastic presentations – complete with powerful messages – as well as inspiring stories. Advice and examples of best practice were shared, with the overall goal of enhancing the development of women’s football. The #Sheroes series of FIFA.com has also featured life stories of various players celebrating their roles in the home and in the field representing their nation. The series highlights the way women players have successfully managing their roles as a mother whole pursuing their career in sports.
No wonder the tournament became one of the major sporting events of women this year, however, didn’t go short on challenges. Many issues hovered around as players raised some key gender based concerns. In an interview with Radio 1 newsbeat, England players along with some grassroots players shared some of the challenges and gaps in the sport world despite the increased recognition.
Players have pointed out the need for more diversity in the sporting genre as currently the tournaments have seen majority from the white communities. Melissa Nathan-Pepple, 29, tells Newsbeat she doesn’t feel the governing bodies of the sport are doing enough to represent the black and minority ethnic communities. Social media backlashes have been another major challenges faced by women as players have stated that they have received abusive comments for their matches just because they are women. Former England footballer Alex Scott has recently opened up about the sexist abuse she faces for doing her job as a football pundit. Many grassroots players however find social media a platform for inspiration as it inspires them to hear about their favorite players’ story and be one of them. However, as the women’s world cup continues to gain more recognition, it has added more pressure for women to play and
However, the major issue raised in France 2019 tournament was by the golden boot winner Megan Rapinoe was the pay disparity which she put out loudly and often during the peak of her popularity. The voice came out loud when she expressed her critical views against Gianni Infantino regarding the same issue. Although Women’s world cup are making significant income from the paid partners, the pay gap still remains huge in comparison with male players. Were it not for LunaBar donation US$31,000 to every USWNT player the winners’ individual bonuses would not have matched those enjoyed by the men’s team. Infantino has reportedly invited Rapinoe to discuss ways on taking women’s football to the next level.
Just as the hype over France 2019 has calmed down, the tournament is again going to take a center of attention with its first ever FIFA Football Conference aimed at analyzing the women’s showpiece. Scheduled to be on September in Milan, the conference will mainly focus on analyzing the tournament from technical, tactical and physical point of view, which will be followed by discussions on the main footballing trends in comparison to previous editions of the tournament.