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CBC Sports: Appreciating the Brilliance of Teen Linda Caicedo and More Highlights from the Women’s World Cup


From a first-time winner in Spain to increasing global parity, this edition of the FIFA Women’s World Cup had it all. There were record audiences, adversity, rising young stars, and the ongoing fight for equality. Here are some takeaways from a tournament so spectacularly hosted by Australia and New Zealand.

new champion

It was a triumphant end to what was a turbulent year for La Roja.

Olga Carmona’s first-half goal was enough for Spain to lift their first Women’s World Cup trophy in just their third appearance, and they now hold the distinction of being the only nation to hold Under-17, Under-20 world titles. and senior at the same time. .

They are a powerhouse and they are here to stay, despite a simmering dispute with their federation that saw 15 players quit their national team roles a year ago, citing their mental health and demands for a more professional environment.

While some have returned, such as Ballon d’Or winner Aitana Bonmati, others have not, including notable Barcelona goalkeepers Sandra Panos, defender Mapi León and Patri Guijarro.

Even in his most celebratory moment, it was the president of his federation who grabbed the headlines for inappropriate behavior.

If the leading nation in women’s soccer is experiencing this kind of treatment, it casts a dark cloud over the work and play environments of other nations around the world, many of which have been documented.

CLOCK | Spain wins its 1st Women’s World Cup:

Why women earn less than men at the FIFA World Cup

Female soccer players at the FIFA World Cup will earn on average a quarter of what men did in Qatar last year, according to figures released by the organization. What is behind this wage gap?

overcoming adversity

There were other nations that overcame disputes with their federations to achieve record results. There is an inspiring story of the Jamaican Reggae Girlz who had to crowdfund their way to Australia before the tournament and rely on continued support from family and friends rather than their own Jamaican Football Federation.

The Nigerian Super Falcons, who led runner-up England to a penalty shootout in the quarter-final, reportedly have not received any pay from their federation since 2021. The global players’ union FIFPro now helps them with remuneration.

Then there was Olympic champion Canada, who succumbed in the Group of Death amid his own battle with Canada Soccer over equal pay. Canada remains the only country in the top 10 in the world that currently does not have a national professional women’s league (Diana Matheson’s Project 8 is expected to launch in 2025).

Australia overcame injury to Sam Kerr, the face of the World Cup and one of the best strikers in the world, in the group stage. The captain returned as a substitute in the round of 16 and quarter-finals before scoring one of the best goals of the tournament in the semi-final loss to England.

No team was hit harder by the injury virus than the European champions Leonas. Starters Leah Williamson, Beth Mead and Fran Kirby all missed the tournament with knee injuries. Still, the team forged ahead, showing the depth of the program and encouraged by the impact of the Women’s Super League and the development path it offers its young players. It will not be his last appearance in the World Cup final.

Growing tournament, game growth

I wrote this on X, formerly known as Twitter, after the group stage. “To all the skeptics who thought that expanding to 32 teams was not a good idea, that women’s football did not have the ‘depth’. I hope you are eating those words.”

In terms of explosions, there were a few, but none in double digits.

And all eight rookie teams – Haiti, Morocco, Panama, the Philippines, Portugal, the Republic of Ireland, Vietnam and Zambia – held their own, including the Philippines’ first World Cup victory at the expense of co-hosts New Zealand.

As the head of FIFA’s Technical Study Group and two-time World Cup-winning coach Jill Ellis of the United States noted: “Progress is the biggest success of this tournament so far. Emerging nations are showing they can compete at this level and the gaps with the best teams are closing.

“The investment in women’s football is already paying off. The players are in better shape, have better technique and are more tactically astute. The games are faster and the level of the coaches is higher.”

Established nations fell sooner than expected. The American team, the defending champions in a row, was eliminated in the round of 16 (the first time they have not reached a semifinal in a Women’s World Cup). Germany, two-time champion and second ranked, was eliminated in the group stage. No. 8 Brazil and Olympic gold medalist Canada also had unceremonious exits in the first round.

Countries made their maiden trip to the knockout stages, including Jamaica (world No. 43), South Africa (world No. 54) and Morocco (world No. 72).

Colombia (No. 25) made their first foray into the quarterfinals and Nigeria (No. 40) returned to the round of 16 for the first time since 1999.

CLOCK | Spain wins its 1st Women’s World Cup:

1692800987 628 CBC Sports Appreciating the Brilliance of Teen Linda Caicedo

Spain wins the Women’s World Cup against England

Spain took home their first Women’s World Cup trophy with a 1-0 win over England, despite major off-field disputes that saw 15 players walk away from the team last year.

record interest

Just under two million fans attended the tournament, 600,000 more than in the 2019 edition in France.

Yes, the tournament expanded from 64 games to 52 four years ago, but the average attendance per game has increased significantly: 30,911 from 21,756. It is also worth noting that 10 matches had more than 45,000 spectators.

In terms of broadcasting, the BBC reported a peak 12 million viewers for Sunday’s final against Spain, plus an additional four million online. It is the second most watched BBC event this year after the coronation of King Charles in May.

According to Reuters, in Spain, 5.6 million watched the final, with a peak audience of 7.4 million viewers.

In Australia, Channel Seven reported that they had a peak of 11.15 million viewers for the Matildas-Lionesses semi-final, the highest viewership since the metric began recording in 2001.

China recorded the highest television audience for a single game in this year’s tournament, with 53.9 million viewers watching their loss to England.

Figures from a global perspective are not yet available, but they are expected to surpass the 2019 record of 1.12 billion people.

Dance, drums, enthusiasm in abundance

As my colleague on the ground, Shireen Ahmed, reported, the Nigerian team upon arrival for their opening game against Canada was very happy. The Super Falcons danced into Melbourne’s Rectangular Stadium (and danced out with a key 0-0 draw after goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie denied Canadian captain Christine Sinclair’s penalty).

And how about the sweet Banyana Banyana songs from South Africa?

Aside from co-hosts Matildas and Football Ferns, did any nation seem to have as much support as Colombia?

Traveling fans and expats turned up to see their teams, whether it was the Republic of Ireland fans roaring in Perth (especially when Katie McCabe scored that Olympian against Canada) or the Argentina fans donning the white and sky blue to support La Albiceleste in New York. Zealand.

linda caicedo

Was there a more captivating young player on the pitch than 18-year-old Colombian Linda Caicedo? His goal of hers against Germany? She dances around two defenders and then shoots towards the top right corner. Exquisite.

She became the first player to play in three different World Cups in one calendar year, including the Under-17 and Under-20 World Cups.

To think that this promising career was at stake three years ago after a devastating diagnosis of ovarian cancer is unfathomable when you look at the magic she brings every time she touches the ball. He told reporters that he hopes to be an inspiration to others facing cancer.

With a player like Caicedo as its backbone, South America has another emerging power besides Brazil.

youth movement

Caicedo topped a list of young stars sharing the limelight in Australia and New Zealand.

The best example is Spain’s super substitute Salma Paralluelo, the 19-year-old winger and former national athletics star who scored two of the team’s biggest goals in the tournament. She scored the 2-1 goal after extra time against the Netherlands in the quarter-final and the opener in a 2-1 win against Sweden in the semi-final.

Paralluelo’s game earned her the FIFA Best Young Player Award. She is now champion in the Sub-17, Sub-20 and absolute categories. She expects even greater things from the electric Barcelona player in the big tournaments to come.

While we didn’t get the full picture of what England’s Lauren James can do thanks to that reckless stamp (and subsequent red card) on Nigeria’s Michelle Alozie’s back in the round of 16, it’s clear she has the ability to give him the return to a game In her head. The 21-year-old was England’s top scorer with three goals and three assists.

From Australian striker Mary Fowler and Dutch midfielder Esmee Brugts, both 20, to Haitian midfielder Melchie Dumornay, 19, the future of world football is in good hands.

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