Women's World Cup 2019: The Good, The Bad and The VAR

Tuning in later to the Final of this summer's biggest football event? Rebecca takes a look at what's happened at the 2019 Women's World Cup and the challenges women's football faces.


The Women’s World Cup… the basics


It’s the World Cup Final today! The coverage of this year’s Women’s World Cup has gained much more attention than in previous years, so even people who know nothing about football, like me, have been paying attention. However, it can all seem a bit complicated and overwhelming for a complete newbie, so I enlisted help: the wonderful Imogen Lancaster, who plays centre midfield for Oxford United Women’s FC, very patiently explained what I wanted to know. Here’s what I learned…


Why is it so exciting?


Like any international competition, it’s thrilling to watch the absolute best of the best on show, and this World Cup is no different – it’s exciting to see the players at the top of their game compete against each other, and some players in particular have been outstanding. Then this year it’s been really great to see the number of people watching. The numbers are still quite far behind the men’s World cup, but it’s definitely better than it used to be. And England’s semi-final was the most watched TV show in England in 2019 so far, so that’s really encouraging.


What’s not so great about this year?


What has been irritating at times is the use of VAR (for the uninitiated, that’s Video Assistant Referee). Most of the time correct decisions are made, but sometimes penalties were given that (in Imogen’s opinion) shouldn’t have been, or penalties had to be retaken that shouldn’t have had to be retaken. Also, the use of VAR means that you can never really truly celebrate a goal for fear that when the officials check the goal, it will be ruled out. So that has been a bit annoying at times.


What’s been the most dramatic?


Imogen told me that there’s been a whole lot of drama in the news and online surrounding Alex Morgan’s celebration against England, which has been interesting to watch. Now, I had to google this to find out what was going on, and it’s slightly hard to believe.


There is a huge outcry over Morgan celebrating her winning goal against England: what did she do to create such a hullaballoo? Did she strip? Swear? Act violently? Nope, she mimed drinking a cup of tea. Apparently, this is ‘distasteful’, ‘disrespectful’, and offensive to our entire history and culture. It’s almost impossible to believe that people are getting so upset about this, especially given the history of men’s teams’ goal celebrations, which involve deliberate violence and miming drug-taking – which leads us to…


How much sexism is there still in women’s football?


There is a history of sexism when it comes to women’s football, and some of the sexist comments online are really irritating. There have been a lot of positive comments but it seems there will always be some sexist ones, ranging from focusing on the players’ personal appearances to violently asserting that any boys’ 5-aside team could beat the reigning women world champions. And lots of the people criticising are doing so from a place of ignorance: this week a man rang in to a Scottish radio show to complain bitterly about the awfulness of the 2019 World Cup, except after a few questions it was discovered he hadn’t watched a game of women’s football since the 1990s!


On a larger scale, women’s and men’s teams are still paid nowhere near the same. And the use of VAR itself has come under accusations of sexism, with its rigorous use in the women’s World Cup being seen as a guinea-pig to try it out before the men’s. But things can change. The rocketing interest in the game will provide more coverage, and hopefully more investment. And change can be started by an individual as well: Tesco and Sainsbury’s are currently under fire for not selling Women’s World Cup stickers in all of their stores, after a campaign started by a seven-year-old girl.


So, to sum up – by actually paying attention to football for a week, I have learned: that England have done really well; that there’s still a huge way to go with social, political and economic issues around women’s football; and that the women in the World Cup play really, really well. Let’s see who wins the final!


Blog Post Crafted by Rebecca


Subjects Taught: English, Maths, 7+, 11+


Background: Rebecca is one of our most popular tutors, with a degree in English from the University of Cambridge and hundreds of hours of private tuition experience in 7+, 11+, English and Maths.


She is also an assessor for Titanium Tutors, observing the mock lessons taught by potential tutors and deciding whether or not they meet the high standards of the agency.

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