This past weekend, the Women’s World Cup came to its climax in Lyon. The United States proved victorious once again, winning their second World Cup on the bounce.
Despite what everybody believed heading into the final, it wasn’t an easy affair for Megan Rapinoe and her fellow Americans. The Netherlands did everything they could to try and stop the well-oiled machine that is the United States but it wasn’t to be.
Rapinoe has built on her reputation over the course of the tournament, developing herself into one of the more egocentric and outspeaking characters in the game. She backed it all up when she scored the first goal in the final. Rose Lavelle added the second goal that saw the US through to clinch their record fourth title.
However, it feels strange. As if this World Cup isn’t about the winners of the tournament. No. It’s about the fact that it has brought millions and millions of people together. To watch a brand of football that is ever-increasing in popularity and quality.
This is shown in the astronomical rise in viewing figures during this World Cup. In the Netherlands, 88% of people that were watching television at the time of the final, had their channels set to NP01 and the final itself.
48% of the population of the UK watched England fall to the United States in the semi-final. That’s 28.1 million people. That figure counts the main TV audience of 11.7m. The rest is comprised of the people that saw the game online.
The female foundations have been laid
This success is being built on in every nation, but none more so than right on our doorstep. The Women’s Super League has yet again expanded before the new season. 12 teams now make up the top flight.
Both Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur will be playing in the WSL for the first time. With the latter taking to Twitter in the last few weeks to announce a whole host of professional deals for the players at the club.
The biggest reason that Men’s football has so much money pumped into it year after year is the number of people that watch the product. Viewers equal revenue. For clubs and broadcasters alike. However, this World Cup has demonstrated that Women’s football has the capacity to be viewed on the same kind of scale of the Men’s game.
The UEFA Women’s Champions League is also rising in popularity, despite Lyon’s dominance of the competition. The French side has all six of their European titles since 2011.
The right messages
Even considering this, the future of Women’s football looks so positive from a competitive and a financial viewpoint. The quality curve of the players is extremely steep. Women like Nikita Parris and Ada Hegerberg are raising the game for all women and are setting an example in professionalism and quality for little girls everywhere to look up to.
That truly shows what this World Cup was all about. Putting amazing and powerful women on a pedestal for all to witness. In that aspect, it has been a downright success. The whole tournament has achieved everything it set out to. With the characters we now have in the women’s game, like Megan Rapinoe, constantly standing up for equality, not only for women but for LGBTQ+ people too.
If you consider the impact of football on society. The innate ability the beautiful game to bring people together. There really is no vehicle more suited to bringing equality into focus. It will take time for female footballers to make anywhere near as much money as their male counterparts – and it may well never happen – but that doesn’t stop every single player, on every single team believing that they are worth just as much as their male peers in the eyes of the public. England’s successes in this World Cup should be heralded just as much as the “success” last summer. The English women did everyone proud, even those who don’t know it yet.