Highlights from the 2019 Women’s World Cup

Mon 26 August 2019

We Make Footballers News

The summer of 2019 feels like it was a watershed moment for women’s football as the game became the centre of the sporting world for four weeks thanks to the World Cup held in France.

Here in England, the Lionesses made headlines on the front and back pages with their brave run to the semi-final and inspired thousands of players and coaches across the nation.

England Women’s fixtures drew television audiences six times bigger than that of the England men’s matches in the  UEFA Nations League Finals.

On a worldwide scale, nobody could escape Megan Rapinoe as she helped to fire the United States to their fourth title, embarking on a Twitter feud with Donald Trump along the way. All while the whole of Team U.S.A ran their campaign for equal pay.

With the final declaring Alex Morgan’s side as champions, we’re taking a look at some of the highlights from the biggest and best women’s World Cup so far!

Lucky 13 for the United States

The United States set their stall out early on with a 13-0 demolition job of Thailand in their group stage game held in Reims.

While the celebrations of Rapinoe, Alex Morgan and company as the goals flew in may have received short shrift from some quarters, it was the reactions of the Thai players and their coach Nuengrutai Srathongvian that deserved the most credit, with Srathongivan saying afterwards that her side must simply improve.

It was dignified and professional and with the US team offering advice and encouragement to their counterparts as the players shook hands at the final whistle – something that went largely unreported in amongst the hysterical reaction to those goal celebrations – you suspect that Thailand will come back stronger in 2023.

Lucy Bronze rivals the best players in the world

There are no shortage of idols for young English girls to look up to in the Lionesses squad, but one who really stood out in France was Lucy Bronze.

Phil Neville knows a thing or two about what a decent player looks like and he described Bronze as “the best player in the world, without a shadow of a doubt” after her display in England’s quarter final victory over Norway.

It’s not just Bronze’s ability that can inspire the next generation, but her story too. Her journey to becoming one of the greatest players on the planet began in a Dominos in Leeds, with the restaurant turning its sign bronze in her honour during the tournament.

Bronze is living proof of where hard work and dedication can take you. It’s a fantastic story – and one that could yet end with her winning the Ballon d’Or.

The Dutch turn France into a sea of orange

There are few better sights at a major tournament than Dutch supporters turning the city in which their side is playing into a sea of orange.

Sadly, it’s something that has been missing from the men’s game in recent years following the Netherlands’ failure to qualify for both Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

The Dutch women have had no such trouble. They were crowned European Champions in 2017 and went all the way to the final this summer before going down to the United States.

Their supporters turned out en masse across France, marching through the streets of Le Harve, Lyon and everywhere else they played in-between in a show of support that was as dazzling as it was inspiring. Nobody who witnessed it could doubt the popularity of the women’s game.

VAR causes controversy

So, this one might not necessarily be a highlight for many. But in its own little way, the use of VAR at the women’s World Cup brought plenty of attention to the tournament which, for the long-term development of the sport, can only be a good thing.

There were too many controversial moments to list, but among the biggest were the way in which the video assistant referee ruled on goalkeepers when facing penalties, Moving even a millimetre off the line resulted in a retake and focussed a lot of minds on the potential damage that VAR could do to the sport.

As a result of that, the Premier League ruled that their video referees wouldn’t be looking at such instances when the technology was introduced for the 2019-20 season.

That seems an eminently sensible decision – and it means that developments in the women’s game are having a positive impact and informing decisions taken in the richest league in the world.

All in all, the tournament was a celebration of the talent and show of world-class players who will go down in history. Idols like Bronze, Marta, Morgan and Von De Sanden will return to their nations as heroes and inspire the next generation of players.

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