Friday, June 12, 2015

Women's World Cup

You may have heard that the 2015 Women’s World Cup kicked off last weekend in Canada, but how much do you actually know about the tournament and the women playing?

The Women’s World Cup, run by FIFA, only started in 1991, and this year the competition has increased as 24 teams have qualified, including 3 African nations: Nigeria, Cameroon and Ivory Coast - a sure sign that the sport is growing in popularity. However the sport still has a long way to go if it wants to reach the dizzy heights of popularity that men’s football enjoys.

For years we have watched women excel in sport, and events such as the Olympics regularly show the world that ANYONE can succeed if they work hard enough, regardless of your gender.
However for some reason, football is almost exclusively seen as a ‘man’s sport’.  Maybe this is because we are so used to cheering on men that we forget that women can also play, but for those people who think that the women's football can’t be as skillful or exciting, here’s a few facts to prove you wrong!

  • The England women’s team is 6th in FIFA world rankings compared to 15th place for the England men’s team.
  • Brazil’s Marta Vieira da Silva (nicknamed ‘Pele in a skirt’) has scored an incredible 79 goals in 91 games!
  • Nigeria’s Asisat Oshoala recently won the inaugural BBC’s Women’s Footballer of the Year Award, in response to her fantastic performance at last year’s Under 20 World Cup where she was the top goal scorer.
  • Tired of seeing players roll around on the floor in agony from just a simple tackle? Well according to a study, women fake injury HALF AS MUCH as men do and get up 30 seconds faster on average, leaving a lot more time to actually play football.

The women’s tournament is very unpredictable, and last weekend saw Germany take a 10-nil lead over Ivory Coast, with 4 goals being scored in 14 minutes at one point! Nigeria and Cameroon have faired much better than this however, with Nigeria securing a very surprising 3-3 draw against the 5th best team in the world Sweden, and Cameroon winning 6-0 against Ecuador.

However, as good as women’s teams are they simply do not get as much coverage or respect as their male counterparts. England Women’s team captain Steph Houghton earns around £25,000 a year from playing football, the national average, but compare that to England team captain Wayne Rooney who earns a £15.3 million a year, and you can see the vast gender difference between 2 people who do the same job! It is the same story when it comes to sponsorship. According to the Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation (WSFF), a shocking 0.5% of all money invested into sport in the UK goes to women’s sport, with men’s sport getting a huge 61.1%, and team sports given the rest. With facts like this is it easy to see how women’s sport is staying under the radar!

This year FIFA have made a small step towards promoting women’s sport by including women’s international teams in their upcoming FIFA 16 game. This may seem fairly insignificant but the popularity of the game means the women’s teams will be seen by millions of people and could help start to break down the barriers that are preventing women’s football becoming mainstream.

Another glimmer of hope comes from the BBC, who this year are showing the Women’s World Cup matches on BBC2, BBC3 and via the red button for the first time in its history, opening up the game to more potential viewers. Hopefully this increased coverage of the tournament will be the start of changing perceptions of women’s football for good.

Good luck to all the teams involved (but come on England!), you are making huge leaps and bounds for equality in sport and doing your country's proud!

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