Spain beat England to win its first ever Women’s World Cup after a historic victory in Sydney.
(Bloomberg) — Spain beat England to win its first ever Women’s World Cup after a historic victory in Sydney.
The Spanish team, known as La Roja, downed England 1-0 in front of a sellout 75,784 crowd at Stadium Australia, triumphing despite a backdrop of unrest and player hostility toward coach Jorge Vilda, who’s managed the team since 2015.
Spain frustrated England early on with passages of strong, attacking possession, before the killer blow on the half-hour mark. The Lionesses’ Lucy Bronze was caught out of position after a long run up field by the Barcelona defender, with a quick cross field path into the space she’d vacated allowing Spain to pounce. Real Madrid’s Olga Carmona drove her shot low into the corner to open the scoring for La Roja.
England then shuffled its formation at the start of the second half and brought on reinforcements, but the pressure failed to relent. Lauren James, coming off the substitutes bench after missing two games for stamping on an opponent, struggled to make an impact.
Spain were also awarded a penalty for a handball with 20 minutes to spare, but England and Manchester United goalkeeper Mary Earps saved the spot kick. In the end it didn’t matter, Spain had done what they came to Australia to do.
Attendance records were smashed at stadiums over the past month in Australia and New Zealand, the competition’s co-hosts, and Australia’s semifinal defeat was the country’s most watched TV show on record with 11.15 million viewers. The global audience for the tournament is expected to surpass 2 billion, up from the 1.12 billion who tuned into the 2019 event in France. Australia lost to Sweden on Saturday in Brisbane in the third-place playoff match.
“The success of the tournament shows a huge growth in interest in the sport and we have seen a great increase in sponsorship and brand awareness for sponsors linked to the women’s game already,” said Christina Philippou, a lecturer in accounting, economics and finance at the University of Portsmouth. “Media showcasing of the sport, better broadcasting, and an increased profile of women’s footballers in adverts on mainstream TV are all the sort of things that attract audiences and also commercial opportunities which, in turn, further increase the profile and help grow interest in the game.”
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Total prize money at this year’s tournament was up to $110 million, FIFA has said, from $30 million in 2019. The champions will earn $4.29 million, with each player on the winning side individually receiving $270,000. That’s still a fraction of the $440 million up for grabs at the men’s World Cup in Qatar last year.
That gap was once again the focus after FIFA President Gianni Infantino said Friday that the world’s best female footballers can achieve pay equality if they “convince us men” first, sparking another backlash from current and former players.
“As players we don’t want to stop here and are always pushing for more,” Millie Bright, Chelsea and England defender, said before Sunday’s match.
The next women’s World Cup takes place in South Africa in 2027.
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