Mark Gleeson

Women's World Cup appealing

2011-07-18 07:14
Sport24 columnist Mark Gleeson (File)
Mark Gleeson

The Women's World Cup final in Frankfurt last night proved a compelling spectacle and is now really a top stand alone event.

Admittedly the standard of play is pretty paltry but there is no denying the massive appeal of the female game.

The World Cup in Germany capitalised on the success of male version just five years ago and the momentum, and hankering for more, ensured sell out crowd for most of the matches.

Even more remarkable, however, has been the huge television audiences across Germany and the rest of Europe for the women’s football.

Records have been broken and broadcasters are astonished at the appeal of this World Cup.

It seems to have struck a cord with the public and while it can be argued there is not much else on at the moment, the women’s game is going to be an even bigger force in years to come.

The game is full of healthy and pretty role models; it is aspirational and it has innocence about it. Sunday’s final was full of drama and nail biting incidents but had just a few bad tackles, one yellow card and then the referee spoilt a pleasant picture by issuing a late and unnecessary red. There was very little cynicism in the play or approach.

The athleticism of the women’s game has impressed immensely over the years and winners Japan and fourth placed finishers France were highly praised for their technical skills The Americans should have won but blew the final, twice going into the lead only to allow Japan back to equalise. Eventually Japan won a first ever major football title on post-match penalties.

The Americans defended like an under-10 side but they know how to move the ball and they are exceedingly fit.

It used to be not that long ago when women’s football was pretty much used as laughing material and pre-match entertainment.

Then it began to be taken more seriously but the games were always spoilt by elementary mistakes and, particularly, a lack of fitness, dexterity and athleticism.

No more. The game has come on in leaps and bounds.

South Africa has never been to women’s World Cup but come close in qualifying before. They have been unlucky but there is even better hope now. The next women’s World Cup in Canada is to be expanded to 24 teams, with an extra slot for Africa.

Banyana Banyana will have a better chance to qualify.

And the South African Football Association is now thinking about bidding to host the 2019 Women’s World Cup.

Mark Gleeson is a respected television commentator and Editorial Director of Mzanzi Football.

Disclaimer: Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.


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