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The transformative power of attending the FIFA Women's World Cup

Author: Ana Costa

The transformative power of attending the FIFA Women's World Cup

An on-the-ground experience attending the biggest FIFA Women's World Cup to date in France 2019 - the atmosphere, the players, and the game.

Despite being from Brazil, where the FIFA Men’s World Cup was hosted in 2014, I had never been to a World Cup match before. My first time was on 18 June 2019 to watch a match between Brazil and Italy in Valenciennes, France, where the teams competed to qualify for the last 16. The warm town of Valenciennes welcomed fans with great infrastructure and attractions. Indeed, I had the feeling of being in a high-level event and was excited about my FIFA World Cup debut.

Unforgettable experiences were part of this debut.

The first one, was feeling a part of a large global family that loves a football atmosphere with many "feminine" characteristics like: welcoming, solidarity, sensitivity, justice, and friendship. Fair play was the rule for fans and teams revealing that unity is more relevant than division and rivalry.

The house I stayed had guests from four nationalities aiming to enjoy the spectacle of football. A fellow Brazilian student was relieved that she did not have to deal with the adverse environment that surrounds male football. According to her, "a similar travel to a decisive game among male teams would lead to much higher levels of tension."

In professional women's football, solidarity is not the opposite of competitiveness. I witnessed both: being part of the global family and enjoying memorable Brazilian and Italian performances. Debinha gave special momentum to the attack, Tamires demonstrated exemplary marking, Marta scored a historic goal becoming the leading scorer in tournament history (which FIFA insists on stating that it only applies to women because of the "impossibility" of comparing the men's and women's competitions). Girelli, number 10 of Italian team, entertained with a performance that yielded a later annulled goal.

As a consumer it was great cost-benefit, with high quality and authentic football – a feature that some fans recognise in the women’s game and claim to have been lost in the men's game – and the fair price of tickets, making the event more accessible to all (high prices prevented me attending the FIFA World Cup matches in Rio de Janeiro 2014).

In addition to this, the stars of the event interacted with fans, taking photos and talking to them, which was a surprise for Razzolini and others accustomed to the inaccessible male top players.

As a researcher focused on the development of sports and athlete branding, I was impressed by the dimension that women's football offers that includes a family environment, safety, authenticity, accessibility and a different profile of role models that are closer to the fans and inspires not only on the field but beyond it.

7 July will see the last game of the 2019 FIFA World Cup and with it hopefully a new phase of women's football in many countries.

Massive visibility has been achieved, millions of fans impacted and engaged and quality of performance was confirmed. Indeed, numbers prove that women's football has the potential to be an excellent investment. Hopefully, prosperity will not only mean more money and infrastructure to the women's game but also an improvement to the democratic environment of debate for a fairer world.

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Article type

News

Author

Ana Costa

Published

Friday, July 5, 2019 - 10:09