By Vincent Ekeh
June 16, 2019
The FIFA women world cup is underway. The next three weeks we will see the remaining of the original 24 nation teams battle in France to become the champions of women’s soccer. Four million dollars and four years of being champions awaits the victors. The games will be played in stadia across nine french cities; Lyon, Paris, Nice, Montpellier, Rennes, Le Havre, Valenciennes, Reims, Grenoble. The opening game between the French and South Koreans will take place in Paris while the final is billed for Lyon on July 7th.
The United States of America Women’s National Team (USWNT) are the defending champions having won the last edition in Canada in 2015. They have won the competition three times and are favorites to defend their crown. They will have to fend off stiff opposition from the French host. A likely quarter final match between both teams looms on the 28th of June if both teams progress till that point. The Germans who are two-time champions will relish a chance to win a tournament they last won on Asian soil in 2007. The English, Dutch, Australians, Japanese and Canadians make up the top eight teams to watch out for in this tournament. Scotland, South Africa, Chile and Jamaica are the four debutante.
Off the pitch, issues of federation support and a wide range in monetary rewards that female soccer players receive compared to their male counterparts lingers. In the summer of 2017, Ada Hegerberg (2018 Ballon d’Or Féminin recipient) decided to stop representing the Norwegian national team as a form of protest due to a dispute with the Norwegian football federation about how they treat women’s football. A few weeks ago at a party held at the home of Jamaica’s consul general in South Florida USA to celebrate the Reggae girlz qualification for the Women’s World Cup, guests were asked to bring a little something extra: a donation of at least $100 to help Jamaica complete its preparations to compete at the World Cup in France.
The US women’s team received two million dollars for winning the 2015 edition of the world cup. This is thirty three million dollars less than what the German men team received for winning the 2014 men world cup in Brazil and seven million short of what the US soccer men team received for finishing eleventh. Last year in Russia, The French men team received thirty eight million for winning the tournament but the winner of the 2019 Women’s World Cup will receive merely four million dollars. It is noteworthy that prior to the 2007 edition of the Women’s World Cup, the winners received no financial reward from the football governing body.
FIFA approval rating took a further hit when they hit a snag on ticket sales which, apparently, separated friends, family members and children that pre-ordered groups of tickets in the hope of sitting together during the games.
The activities of the yellow vests movement should not be overlooked going into semi-finals and the finals of the games. All nine host cities for the games have witnessed protests from the yellow vest movement. With a global tournament taking place in the neighborhood, the leaders of the yellow vest movement might not pass on the opportunity to perform to the increased global audience. Watch for that over the next three weeks.
A more recent development has been the introduction of more aggressive and violence prone “Black Bloc” elements into the yellow vest protests. Black Bloc protestors are generally distinguishable by their all black garb and black ski masks that cover their faces. The protestors are extremists who are perceived to be using yellow vest protests as an excuse to create physical destruction and agitate security forces. Not to mention that France have witnessed increased terrorists activities over the last decade.
The next three weeks promises to be fun whether you are a spectator in the stadiums or cheering your teams from your living rooms. For the players, this is a chance to immortalize their names and taste glory and a chance to address some questions.Will FIFA and the different football association take the necessary steps to support and create equality to female soccer?
Only time will tell.