Last night saw the curtain come down on the Women’s World Cup Finals at Lyon when a capacity crowd of 57,900 excited fans witnessed history in the making. On and off the pitch.
From the moment USA stepped out in Matchday 1 and set their markers down against Thailand with a resounding 13-0 victory, we could see no other serious contender for the rest of the tournament. Unfortunately for a very good young Netherlands team - they faced a mammoth task to upset the odds in the final.
It’s fair to say that the USA have dominated Women’s Football for a long time and after last night’s victory, they show no signs of easing off.
This is a team that are ranked number 1 in the world and never lower than 2nd. This is a team that recorded their 12th consecutive match victory at a World Cup. This is a team that has secured their 4th World Cup title. This is a team that has not only proven they are the most successful National team in Women’s Football, they are also making a claim to be one of the most successful National teams in footballing history.
This year’s tournament has been a huge success, not only for the Women’s game, but for football itself.
Every sport needs its hardcore champions, that one individual or team to give fans around the world a reason to watch. We want to watch the best. We want to see what Tiger has done for golf, Federer for tennis and what the All Blacks have done for Rugby.
We need heroes, dominant champions and international superstars. We need something that draws fans and viewers from all around the world – and this is what the USWNT are doing for the sport.
It is 2019, and the topic of whether Women’s Football should be taken seriously or not still exists. It’s ludicrous, but is the discussion finally coming to an end?
Over the course of the Finals around 1 billion viewers watched the games on TV’s globally. The semi-finals between USA & England raked in 9million viewers in the UK alone.
The sport has dramatically seen an increase in publicity and awareness over recent years and this can only be beneficial for the gender balance of the sports fan base.
With the Women’s Football getting the much-deserved acknowledgement recently, there will no doubt be an increase in female players and spectators who don’t feel so excluded from the game. And the exciting nature of the matches will encourage more men to enjoy the Women’s game.
The beauty of football is its simplicity, anyone can watch it and understand it immediately.
I watched the big matches with my 5-year-old son, and not once did he point out that these games were being played by women, rather than the men’s matches we usually watch together.
I want my son to grow up in a world of accepted diversity and inclusion, and sport has and always will continue to bring people together. It may only seem like a football match to some, but the Women’s World Cup of 2019 is a huge leap for gender equality both on and off the pitch.
As this dramatic rise continues, it’s only a matter of time before the big TV stations buy the rights to show women’s football regularly. Viewing figures will improve, advertisers will pay big bucks to be featured on kits, in stadiums and eventually bringing the sports side by side.
It’s time for Women’s Football to be given the same recognition as men’s and this World Cup has shown that we’re making progress.
This is evolution - and I am here for it.