Fifa Women's World Cup: finally in the limelight?

The 2019 Women’s World Cup ended on Sunday with a 2:0 victory by the US over the Netherlands. French stadiums were full and the tournament also attracted more interest from other countries than ever before. Commentators stress that there is still room for improvement.

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Helsingin Sanomat (FI) /

A triumph for women's sports

The Women's World Cup has taken interest in women's sport to a whole new level, says Helsingin Sanomat:

“Although the title going to the US is nothing new, the Women's World Cup in France will remain in our memories for many other reasons: it launched debates, introduced instant replay as a fixed component and garnered more attention than ever before for women's football. Although the stadiums were full in previous tournaments, and the World Cup in China attracted huge audiences twelve years ago, the competition in France attracted more media and public interest than ever before. The biggest winners of the World Cup in France were women's football and above all women's sports.”

NRC Handelsblad (NL) /

The clubs need to do their bit

The success of the Dutch women must be reflected in the country's club structures, NRC Handelsblad demands:

“With the women the situation is the opposite of that with the men: the national team is the pioneer of Dutch women's football but the clubs don't play at the international level. The fact that the Netherlands came so close to winning the World Cup demonstrates how quickly the national team has developed. ... In Dutch football clubs, the necessary professionalisation will only come if the clubs and the [football association] KNVB campaign for it to happen. ... Hopefully the success of the women led by [the coach of the national team] Wiegman will accelerate the development of the [professional league] Eredivisie. In the end this is also a question of money.”

Libération (FR) /

Not just a surrogate sport

Even the name is an effrontery, Libération laments:

“No one would even think of talking about 'men's football'. When you put the word 'women's' in front of 'football', you convey the idea that the two sexes aren't really playing the same game. The women players, one might think, are playing a sport that was invented just for women, a surrogate sport. What's the difference between a male player and a female one? A male player is a man who plays football. A female player is a person who plays women's football. On the one hand there's real, genuine football, and on the other there's that women's thing. One imagines a gaggle of women running around a tiny pitch in high heels, kicking handbags until one of them accidentally falls into the net.”

Upsala Nya Tidning (SE) /

Women football players must also make a living

Upsala Nya Tidning is dismayed that women's football is still under-financed and that players can hardly earn a living, while the same is by no means true with tennis for example:

“With team sports equality is still a long way off. The correspondents of the Swedish Television travelled ahead of the World Cup to Cameroon, Brazil and Wales and met women who were fighting for their right to play football. In all three countries they were told that 'football is a sport for men'. Couldn't they report on field hockey instead? ... It's bizarre that this is continuing. ... But there is hope. Forty-five thousand people watched the opening game France vs. South Korea in the stadium and eleven million French people watched it on TV. It was clear that this is a top-class sport and must be paid accordingly.”

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

Fairer, cleaner, less sullied

Swiss author Bänz Friedli can barely contain his enthusiasm in Neue Zürcher Zeitung:

“Women's football is better football: fairer, cleaner, less sullied. 'Because there's nothing at stake', I can already hear people say: 'As soon as there's more money at stake it will corrupt women's football too.' No. Because precisely the few millionaires women's football has created are the ones who are showing the most commitment to social causes and running charitable foundations. And as for the media, it should start focussing on the players as top athletes instead of talking endlessly about their sexual orientation. I can't wait for the games to start! Or for the day when in the run-up to the women's finals newspapers no longer have to run articles justifying the sport - especially not articles written by men.”

El Periódico de Catalunya (ES) /

Dribbling its way into the public eye

The media and spectators are finally beginning to take an interest in the women's sport, El Periódico de Catalunya comments:

“The Women's World Cup is starting and no one can ignore the fact that the event is transcending the realm of sport. Ever since the 2015 World Cup in Canada the panorama has changed considerably. Women's football is growing inexorably. The increase in sponsors, airtime and viewers demonstrates its appeal. Gone are the days of complete invisibility when the bleachers were always empty and the footballers were ignored by the media. Great progress has been made even though the evolution can't conceal the fact that equality is still a distant goal on the football pitches.”