Women’s World Cup 2019 aims to boost women’s football globally

World Today

The Women’s World Cup kicks off in France Friday, and in addition to hosting a memorable tournament this year, organizers are taking aim at another, long-term goal. CGTN’s Elena Casas explains.

Follow Elena Casas on Twitter @elenacmontanez

Holders the USA are odds-on favorites to win the Women’s World Cup. But the run up to their tournament has been hit by controversy, after some of the players traveling to France sued the U.S. Soccer Federation for paying them less than the men’s team.

The players say they hope this tournament can kick the women’s game to a new level.

“The World Cup is gonna be a really great one,” predicts Alex Morgan, a striker for the U.S. Women’s National Football Team. “I think France is going to put on an amazing tournament and I’m looking forward to FIFA as well stepping up and really seeing this World Cup as a guideline for the future of women’s football.”

Organizers the French Football Federation say they’re taking this competition every bit as seriously as the men’s game.

“We’ve been promoting this for four years, since we became a candidate to host the World Cup, and women’s football is really having a boom, we’ve gone from 50 thousand to 500 thousand girls playing in clubs since 2011,” said Erwan le Prevost, director of the organizing committee for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. “So, while women’s football still isn’t the most popular sport in France, it really is growing.

France’s women are serious contenders for the title – alongside Germany and the U.S. – and France’s Olympique Lyonnais recently beat Barcelona to the women’s Champions League.

France has been flush with footballing glory since the men’s team brought the World Cup home last year. If the female players also get a victory parade down the Champs Elysées, the future popularity of the women’s game with French audiences will be guaranteed.

France’s own games and the final rounds have already sold out.

“Usually we play in front of 500, 1000 people – maybe a few more,” said Gaetane Thiney, a striker for the French Women’s National Football Team. “Now we’ll be playing in front of a sold out Parc des Princes – I think that’s 47,000 seats. Can you imagine, 47,000 people and a World Cup at home? It’s going to be extraordinary.”

About half of tickets sold so far have gone abroad – with the U.S. and the Netherlands expected to be especially well-supported by traveling fans.

Organizers say this is set to be the best attended women’s tournament ever, and that these players will prove on the pitch that football really is for women.

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Like many South American nations, Chile’s women’s football team is overshadowed by the men’s. But it’s competing for the first time in the World Cup this week. And it comes just as the women’s gaming is turning professional in Chile. CGTN’s Joel Richards reports.

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