2023 World Cup Is A Huge Opportunity To Grow Women’s Game In England

Despite the huge amount of money swirling around in (men’s) club football, there is little that can capture the imagination of casual fans quite like a World Cup. We saw that in Qatar, where, despite reservations pre-tournament, the event captured the attention of the globe, particularly towards the latter stages.


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This summer, we will see the Women’s World Cup take place in Australia and New Zealand. We know, with all due respect, it’s not going to get the same attention that the men’s tournament did, or other major sports events do, but it should be viewed as another step to growing the women’s game, particularly in the Uk, where women’s football has been buoyed by the recent success of the Lionesses.


Of course, the Women’s Euro 2022 event was held in England, and that sense of proximity to the fans helped with the atmosphere as the Lionesses went on to win their first major international trophy. This time, the tournament will take place on the other side of the world.


BBC and ITV will broadcast tournament

Remember, it’s not just about getting into the stadiums to see the games; it’s about the timings of the matches on television. Both the BBC and ITV will be showing the games, which are mostly scheduled for ‘primetime’ in the evening in AUS/NZ, thus in the early hours of the morning for UK viewers. Still, there could be an opportunity for some breakfast viewing, particularly as the Lionesses are based in Australia for the group games.


Nonetheless, what a World Cup needs in order to catch the imagination of the fans is a narrative. Qatar got its narrative via Lionel Messi, with millions, if not billions, of neutrals cheering on one of the world’s greatest-ever players as he finally landed the World Cup. At the Women’s World Cup, we could have a narrative involving the two best teams in the world right now, England and the USA.


The USA narrowly leads the online betting markets for the tournament, coming in at 3/1. But that is only narrowly ahead of the Lionesses at 7/2 (odds correct at the time of writing and subject to change). There are other teams that could have a say – Spain, Germany, and, perhaps, France – but the USA and England lead the way.



England and US could meet in Final

Despite that huge victory at Euro 2022, it’s worth saying that the USA team remains far ahead of England in terms of experience. They are four-time champions, finishing as runners-up once and third three times. They have never done any worse than reaching the Semi-Finals. England, meanwhile, have a third-place finish in 2015. But that, in itself, sets up the narrative. On the one hand, we have the established champions – the dominant force in women’s football in the 21st century. And on the other hand, we have the challengers, a new-look England team riding a wave of euphoria.


Of course, we have constructed this narrative in a purely hypothetical fashion, but it is possible that it plays out this way. Certainly, both teams have been kept apart in the draw, and they will remain so if each side wins their respective group (the US is in Group D, England Group E). If all goes to plan, the two nations could meet in a blockbuster World Cup Final on the 20th of August.


Would a Women’s World Cup win for the Lionesses be enough to grow the game considerably in the country? Not in and of itself. There remains the need for investment, governmental support, and so on. World Cups and similar sporting events can act more like catalysts for growth, under the right conditions. But a good performance, even if it ends in defeat, can help continue the great work done by those supporting the women’s game in England. Let’s just hope the tournament gets the attention it deserves. 





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