Fifa Women's World Cup: finally in the limelight?
The Fifa Women's World Cup is currently taking place in France, but media coverage is not high. And even in big cities it's hard to find venues where the games can be viewed. Women players must fight for recognition not only in these areas, commentators lament.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”