Yes, I’ve been watching the Women’s World Cup once again and… I’ve actually been meaning to praise even more notable improvements when I decided to write this post, but then I read what I wrote back in 2011 and saw striking similarities.
France again impressed but didn’t make it too far while Germany advanced without impressing, the United States dominated and progressed but didn’t shine, Norway was an even worse disappointment this time and was eliminated early on, and Japan will once again have a lot to say. In fact, I’m now expecting another United States – Japan final, though I would have wished for France to be there among the top four, though instead of England and not Germany, all of these high-level clashes starting even in the last 16 being a result of the attempt to clear a path for Canada, as hosts.
Sadly, at least out of the matches I did see, there were fewer thrilling ones, as in interesting for a neutral observer to watch. However, considering the teams that took part in the less interesting matches and, even more so, the specific way in which they played out, I’ll say that’s not a matter of the quality and professionalism of the players or coaches dropping, but an unfortunate result of it actually increasing, to the point that they are better able to cancel each other out and also more aware, likely too much so from the point of view of said neutral observer, of the stakes at play. The finishing, which remains largely poor, France’s performance against Germany being a great example of that, definitely doesn’t help either, and neither does the noticeably improved goalkeeping, though the position remains a sore spot for quite a number of teams.
Interestingly, however, perhaps the most striking difference I’ve noticed doesn’t involve players or coaches, but referees, and not necessarily when compared to the previous competition, but simply between the group stage matches and the following rounds. I mean, I saw absolutely dreadful refereeing during group stage matches, with some quite simply destroyed by awful decisions, and then it was like a switch was flipped and the refereeing in the next rounds was mostly great, not only in terms of mostly correct decisions, even in difficult situations, but in the spirit of the game as well. So I can only hope this will continue and we won’t end up with one of these last few, most important matches being decided by refereeing mistakes.
As something of a conclusion, this Women’s World Cup looks significantly more like the men’s, if not necessarily in the good ways, with the exception of the clearly improved overall quality of goalkeeping. And once again, this makes me wonder even more how much further could women’s football get if it’d receive even half the attention, and perhaps a quarter of the funding, men’s does. And I’m talking of Europe here, and perhaps even more so of South America, because in the United States or Japan, or even Canada, China and possibly even Australia, it seems to be doing quite well, especially by comparison. And I still don’t know why it doesn’t, because these girls can play, despite the great differences in pay, facilities, recognition, governmental support or number of fans.