Thursday, 16 June 2011

Don't forget Women's World Cup

The following is a blogpost from Lindsay Eanet, a Justin Campaign officer based in Liverpool and massive fan of both men's and women's football.

Hey you! Yes, you! Did you know there’s a whole other World Cup that starts a week from Sunday?

Yes, the FIFA Women’s World Cup starts on June 26!

It’s a thing that is happening, and you should watch it because, like its male counterpart, it will be full of highly skilled, impassioned play that reminds you all about what ‘The Beautiful Game’ should be about.

Maybe it’s just in the US and the UK, but the lack of international media and fan attention that seems to be surrounding the Women’s World Cup (minus the Playboy spread in which members of the German national team participated) is disappointing, although thoroughly unsurprising.

Maybe it’s just bad timing, with men’s league play just ending, Euro qualifiers on the horizon and Olympic hype overwhelming all sports coverage whether we like it or not.

Or maybe it’s the systemic inequity of women’s sports, the fact that fewer resources and advertising revenue will inevitably go to the competition than the male counterpart.

Usually, when women’s football makes the headlines at all, the focus, sadly, is more on scandal and salaciousness than success and statistics.

My fellow American football fans probably remember Brandi Chastain triumphantly ripping her shirt off after her winning goal in the 1999 Women’s World Cup more than the goal or the victory themselves.

As women’s football came to the forefront during the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, all eyes were on German stars Inka Grings and Linda Bresonik for their love triangle with male coach Holger Fachs as opposed to their skills on the field.

But three years have passed and progress, although small, has been made —
on the FIFA Women’s World Cup official website, Grings is being touted as one of the stars of this year’s competition and the driving force behind the home country’s squad.

And she has the stats to back it up: Grings has won the Golden Boot in the Bundesliga six times and has been named German Female Footballer of the Year three times.

Much like Mia Hamm, Sissi and Hanna Ljungberg did briefly in the years following the tournament’s inception, hopefully Grings and her contemporaries, like Brazil’s Marta and England’s Kelly Smith, can turn the focus away from the ugliness of scandal and hypersexualization and towards the beauty and magic of the game we know and love itself.

England’s first match takes place on June 27 against Mexico at 6pm CET in Wolfsburg.

For those of us who lack the luxury of digital cable, BBC Sport Online will be streaming the matches. Or, host a watch party!

Watch parties are fun, and so is supporting England’s awesome female athletes.

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