By MIKAYLA MCDONALD
Popularity of women’s sports has increased dramatically in the twentieth century, especially in the last few decades. One of the most notable events for women sports that has gained popularity in the last three decades is the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
The upcoming 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, to be held in France this summer, has gained quite a bit of attention as it promotes its #LegendsAssemble group, which is made up of 13 women and 10 men from 20 of the 24 countries. Their mission is to promote and advance women’s soccer.
“I’m excited about #LegendsAssemble, because my alter ego has just one goal, and that is to empower girls and women and encourage them to play football,” announced Alex Scott, a former English footballer for Arsenal in the FA WSL.
The FIFA Women’s World Cup began 60 years after the first Men’s FIFA World Cup tournament.
Carolyn Rouse, a junior playing on UMW’s women’s club soccer team, is planning on attending the Women’s World Cup this summer. She said, “The [USA] women’s team, despite their success, has been treated lesser than the men’s team.”
“The main argument has been that the women’s world of soccer is less competitive because some countries don’t fund and support their women’s team like the U.S. does,” said Rouse. “Another way people discredit the team is that the men’s soccer team brings in more revenue than the women’s.”
“Since their 2015 World Cup, the women’s team has skyrocketed in sales and surpassed the men. People argue it’s a matter of skill, that the men are more skilled than the women, but they’re not,” said Rouse, displacing this theory.
“The women have three World Cup wins, four Olympic gold medals and one silver medal. At the most recent Olympics, they did not make it to the finals, but that was a rebuilding year for them while it seems that the men’s team is always rebuilding. The men, who did not even qualify for the last World Cup are still paid more than the women. After the men did not qualify, the women were finally granted bonuses equal to their male counterparts.”
Andres Cabrera, a freshman on UMW’s men’s varsity soccer team, said that women’s sports are less popular because there are more men than women watching sports. “This question depends truly on the person, no matter the gender you can’t force someone to watch something she/he is not interested in,” he added.
Currently, the U.S. women’s national team holds the champion title with three wins, one being the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
In 2015, Carli Lloyd was named the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup champion as she dominated the sideline as a midfielder.
Although there are many phenomenal women athletes Cabrera points out, he attributes the main difference in how men play versus how women play to physical attributes.
“In my opinion, men play the game faster and harder than women. That could be because of the way men are built and our physicality. I never doubt women in sports, especially soccer, because athletes always give their 100%. However, there is a limit for athletes, and men and women just have different limits to their bodies. It’s also not about intelligence because we can all agree that women are smarter than men, and they can multitask as well. But like I said before, it comes down to physical attributes,” said Cabrera.
Nonetheless, Cabrera predicts that “the US women’s team will win the 2019 world cup for the simple fact that they are ranked first in the FIFA rankings and they have shown that they are the most dominant country when it comes women’s soccer.”
Rouse is hopeful that the U.S. will win again, but recognizes the tough competition from the other teams. “Germany is also a very skilled team and I can see them potentially beating us,” she said. “France, who is ranked third in the world, beat us 3-1 this past January even though we are ranked first. Spain is ranked twelfth and we only beat them 1-0 in our most recent game.”
Rouse outlined changes to the U.S. women’s team since the last world cup.
“They have lost some key players that helped them win the last one like Abby Wambach who was a big goal scorer for us or Hope Solo. However, the U.S still has a lot of their best players like Carli Lloyd, Megan Rapinoe, Becky Sauerbraun, and Julie Johnston (now Ertz).”