April 20, 2024

A new era of women’s football awaits – who will be brave enough to come along?

The FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 has finally reached its frenetic conclusion, with Spain outplaying England’s Lionesses to secure the title. It’s a monumental milestone in women’s football, but for some, the final left a sour taste.

Spain’s win, while thoroughly deserved, was clouded by ongoing tensions between the first-team players and their coaching staff, led by Jorge Vilda. The Spanish FA president Luis Rubiales then drew heavy criticism for appearing to kiss Spain’s Jenni Hermoso on the lips during the post-match ceremony. “I did not enjoy that,” Hermoso said afterwards, before later clarifying (via the Royal Spanish Football Federation, RFEF) that “it was a natural gesture of affection and gratitude. ”

It wasn’t plain sailing for the England squad, either – even aside from the gut-wrenching loss of a World Cup Final. The Lionesses have consistently outperformed their male counterparts for only a fraction of the respect, shown once again on the world’s stage through Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Prince William’s (President of the Football Association) conspicuous absence from the final. The England squad also returns home to an ongoing dispute with the FA over its refusal to pay bonuses for their achievements in the tournament.

Despite the rumbling controversies, the Women’s World Cup has demonstrated a tantalising appetite for women’s football worldwide. A total audience of 21. 2 million tuned in to watch the BBC’s televised tournament coverage, while almost two million fans made their way to Australia and New Zealand to watch it in person – an upgrade of 600,000 from the last iteration in France in 2019. «This momentum is unstoppable,» said FIFA chief women’s football officer Sarai Bareman of the tournament’s success. «The numbers and data and everything about this World Cup has eclipsed 2019. ”

At a time when we should be celebrating how far we’ve come, we’re instead reminded of how far we have to go. The next Women’s World Cup is in 2027, but as yet, there’s no one to host it. While FIFA figures that out – quickly, please – we’ve identified three areas that are *crucial* to the future of women’s football…

1. Respect

The football at the Women’s World Cup may have been exquisite, but off-field gaffes and disputes have exposed a persistent disrespect for the women’s game: Right-wing factions of the US media delighted in the “woke” USA’s early exit from the tournament; the Nigerian team were praised for their ‘physicality’ over their talent; and Nike still won’t stock a replica goalkeeper shirt for Mary Earps – despite her winning the Golden Glove Award.

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