The viewing figures from this year’s World Cup in France was further evidence that the women’s game has grown to a level that few expected just two decades ago. A massive 1.2 billion viewers around the world tuned in to see the event with the final being watched by 82.1 million people around the world. The game is being watched more than ever, there is more online betting on this sport than ever before and interest is at an all time high. Those of us who have followed the game for sometime were already aware of the rate at which this sport was growing, and it is the current world champions that have been the driving force behind the growth of the game globally. Men’s soccer hasn’t always performed well in the USA, but the women’s game has been a whole different story.
As the sport has grown in popularity and as more and more high level coaches have began to work in the game, the quality of the football being played in the women’s game is higher than ever. This was a fair criticism in the past as the level was a million miles away from the men’s game, even lower league men’s football. The USA have of course been the driving factor behind this increase in quality, in part thanks to the investment that has been made, as well as the fact that there is more attention by way of sponsorships and TV deals, which has created the need for higher quality play.
In the late 80s and early 90s women’s football was ridiculed, it was followed by few and there was little coverage of the sport. The watershed moment which changed all of that however was the 1999 World Cup final in Pasadena, when Brandi Chastain scored the winning penalty against China in front of 90,000 fans, and 40 million US viewers across the country. Most had tuned in not as fans of the women’s game, but instead to support the nation in their final, and nothing has been the same since. News channels picked it up, people realized the quality that was being played and fans were born on that day.
The USA and China have been the biggest investors in the women’s game and this has made the sport more accessible for young girls. With more coaches, training centers, pitches and leagues, the women’s game at grassroots level has never been healthier and that is down to how the US have invested over the years. This investment has also brought a whole host of young women from around the world to the USA, to enjoy the level of competition and quality coaching which has been on offer, which they have then taken back to their own nations. Evidence of this can be seen when we look at the fact that the NWSL provided more players to the World Cup than any other league in the world.
The US women’s team is once again on top of the world this year, and it is just rewards for all of the good work that this nation has done for the women’s game globally.