Written by Deiana Hristov
Published in the May 22, 2015 issue
Every four years, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) World Cup is the most prominent event worldwide, with millions of people tuned in to watch the top male soccer players compete for global victory.
So the men’s World Cup is a big deal. The women’s? That’s a different story. Hosted this year in Canada from June 6 to July 5, the Women’s World Cup, once dismissed and ignored, is coming out of the shadows. For die-hard USA soccer fans who have had to suffer the disappointment of seeing the men’s team fall short, it provides a ray of hope. The American women’s team is one of the best teams in the soccer world. The team has taken home two World Cup victories in 1991 and 1999 in addition to four Olympic titles in 1996, 2004, 2008 and 2012.
The first Women’s World Cup was hosted in 1991 in China and featured 12 teams. The last Women’s World Cup was held in Germany in 2011 and featured Japan as the victor. This year, the U.S. and Germany are the strongest teams competing. Both have won the Women’s World Cup twice—the U.S. in 1991 and 1999 and Germany in 2003 and 2007.
One player to pay attention to this summer is Abby Wambach. As one of TIME magazine’s 100 most influential people of the year, Wambach is in the spotlight. She has won six U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year Awards and in 2012, was the first American in 10 years to win the FIFA World Player of the Year Award. She has also scored the highest number of international goals.
Brazil is the soccer powerhouse of the world, so it is not surprising that it produces some of the best players. Marta Vieira da Silva is Brazil’s star. She has won the FIFA World Player of the Year for five consecutive years and is the number one scorer for Brazil.
All of these aspects are definitely noteworthy. But most important is how the Women’s World Cup affects the way girls view themselves. Many girls enjoy watching soccer and are just as enthusiastic about it as men. With little rep- resentation, however, these women can feel like their passion for soccer is not valued because soccer is portrayed as a “man’s sport,” and women may gradually lose interest. As more women lose interest, female represen- tation starts to dwindle, leading to more women tuning out. FIFA, however, is trying to put an end to this vicious cycle.
This is why it is important to watch the Women’s World Cup. It shows support for women empowerment and demonstrates that they can be recognized as a legitimate part of the athletic community with the capability to succeed in any field.