This is a big summer for soccer – between Copa América, the Gold Cup and the FIFA Women’s World Cup, there will be plenty of opportunities for watching the beautiful game. Of these three, however, the Women’s World Cup – June 6th in Canada – tends to unfairly get overshadowed. Here are a few reasons why you should be just as amped to watch women on the pitch this year.
Gahdamn Marta is the best. Watching the Brazilian player is a spectacle in and of itself. Some people even refer to her as the skirt-wearing Pele (which is pretty misogynist and annoying – but you get the point, the woman is good). In addition to killing it, Marta has also become a symbol for the Latin-American women who fight to take down stereotypes, which is just another reason to love her.
In an interview with BBC, Marta told a childhood story of how she had to run away from her brothers who would try to kick her off soccer fields because they believed it was a man’s sport.
“I was the only girl in the middle of a bunch of boys and I was not always well accepted. But I never gave up because I realized it was a way to move forward and help my family economically, and in a way, to try to reverse the role given to women.”
After this World Cup, we’re hoping people will start calling Neymar the pants-wearing Marta.
To see how the artificial soccer turf affects the game
This will be the first World Cup to be played completely on artificial turf. It will be interesting to see how this will affect the players, since the ball will bounce differently and will require more physicality. Many players who will be participating in the tournament have complained about this issue – even filing a lawsuit alleging discrimination, which was later withdrawn – and it seems that their voices were heard, as FIFA is unlikely to do this again.
FIFA has claimed it’s not financially possible for them to provide natural soccer turf, despite the fact that most soccer matches in the world are played on natural turf, and the fact that FIFA made $338 million dollars in profit during the 2014 Men’s World Cup (which, incidentally, was played on grass).
Dark horses are sure to emerge
Due to the professionalization of women’s soccer, there way more quality teams than there have been in the past. Traditional powerhouses like Germany, Brazil, France, Japan, and the United States are still the favorites, but now there are a good number of teams that will give them a run for their money and make the first round much more interesting.
Spain is one of these teams. Will they make it to the semifinals? Probably not, but we believe they have several high quality players, such as midfielder Verónica Boquete. At 5 ft 3 in, the former Portland Thorns player reminds us of the Spanish Bajitos generation –tiki-taka to the bone.
The playing field is even like never before
The 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup will be the first tournament where the majority of the players train everyday and play in professional leagues. This is a drastic change from before – only five or six years ago, most players were working or studying part time, and practicing only three times a week.
Women’s soccer really took off after the last World Cup in Germany. National leagues throughout Europe and the US really benefited from the positive public exposure during the tournament. Sweden, Germany, and France all have quality leagues that offer good salaries to their players, and the trend seems to be a positive one. Just last week, Mexico announced the creation of it’s U-20 women’s league.
As Women’s soccer continues to grow, so will the spectacle surrounding it.