Felicidades a España!

August 21, 2023 • 8:32 am

(Pardon me if I’ve erred in my Spanish title!)

I was unable to watch the FIFA Women’s World Cup finals in Ecuador, but found out just yesterday that Spain had defeated England 1-0. It was a squeaker, with some good saves by both Spanish and English goalkeepers. But the Spanish captain Olga Carmona got one mighty kick into the corner of the net, and that was all she wrote.

Here’s the summary from Andrew Das, who writes the NY Times’s emailed newsletter on the Cup.

In the moments after Spain claimed its first World Cup title, after the medals were collected and the queen had been hugged and the trophy was thrust into the night sky amid a thunderstorm of fireworks and gold confetti, there was only joy for its players. But World Cups are never about a single moment, or a single emotion.

Nearby, the England players had seen their own championship dream dashed by the slimmest of margins, a single goal in a single game in a long month of them. Watching from afar, Australia could be proud of a few weeks it will never forget, the United States would have wondered what might have been, and a handful of teams — Jamaica and South AfricaColombia and MoroccoNew Zealand and the Philippines — could ponder what lies ahead in this brave new women’s soccer world.

But on Sunday in Sydney, there was only one celebration, and that was for Spain, a team that had nearly come apart before it came together, a team that set aside its significant differences to achieve the biggest first in a World Cup filled with them. That meant more for its singular moment. And it was, to Spain’s players, worth everything. “We deserve it,” Spain midfielder Aitana Bonmatí said. No one could disagree.

Here are the highlights: Spain’s sole (and winning) goal is at 1:41, and is replayed twice.

. . . and here are Spain’s highlights throughout the whole tournament:

And here’s Sweden nabbing third place, beating Australia 2-0. There are also some good saves, and a bit of a scuffle between two players, but Sweden (in yellow) won on a penalty kick and and an excellent goal.

Watching what parts of the games I could, plus the highlights, have convinced me that women’s soccer, at least at this level, is just as exciting as men’s, for the level of play is very high.  Although and equity in pay between men and women was driven by the U.S. team, which, sadly, made its egress during the knockout round, I suspect that watching these games is going to stimulate a worldwide interest in women’s soccer, and inspire a lot of young girls to start kicking the ball around. As the NYT wrote in the paper:

Spain’s first victory in the Women’s World Cup and England’s run to the final were not only formidable achievements for teams that have transformed into perennial title contenders in the space of just a few years. They were also a fortifying message to the many girls in both countries who have increasingly been taking up the sport: Women, too, can elevate a nation to the summit of world soccer.

The final has reflected the increasing interest and investment in women’s soccer in Spain and England, with more and more girls joining clubs and leagues that are growing in size and professionalism — a profound change in countries where soccer was long the preserve of all-powerful men’s teams, and one that is likely to accelerate after this year’s World Cup.

“The perception of women’s soccer has changed,” said Dolors Ribalta Alcalde, a specialist in women’s sports at Ramon Llull University in Barcelona. “It is now seen as a real and exciting opportunity for girls. This World Cup, with its high profile, will have an impact on how people view women’s soccer. It will help make a big step forward.”


19 thoughts on “Felicidades a España!

  1. I set my alarm and watched the whole thing. It was a marvelous game.
    I saw a snippet from some conservative site claiming that the women shouldn’t earn as much as the men because it isn’t as popular and it does not churn out as much revenue. I think they should be paid equally to biological male football, but I am not sure how to articulate my reasoning other than an argument for equal pay for equal work. But what do other people think, and why?

    1. …I’ve often heard comments along the lines of ‘not generating enough viewers/sponsorship/interest/money’…

      That’s changed a fair bit, for quite a while now, cracking football as good as the men!… but of course perceptions are hard to change…

      1. Objectively, the women aren’t at the same level as the men. Just as in virtually any other sport you could name.

        All of these women’s national teams will have scrimmaged against boys’ teams as part of their training cycle. By boys, I mean 14-15 years old. Often the women lose. Similarly, women’s pro teams will sometimes play the 14-15 year old boys in their club’s academy….and they often lose to them.

        Why do this? Because currently, 14-15 year old boys are usually quicker than the best female players in the world, and therefore offer a cheap and convenient challenge that doesn’t involve playing the same few elite women’s teams over and over again.

        Any older than 15 or 16, and it would be too much in favor of the boys…who would now too closely resemble men.

        Now ask yourself, would the Spanish men’s national team consider scrimmaging some 15 year old boys to get ready for a World Cup? Would Man City play against the 15 year olds in its academy to get ready for that upcoming game away at Arsenal? Of course not….and that should tell you all you need to know about the current gap in men’s and women’s football.

        Even old, knackered has-been men can dominate women, as in this tournament:

        1. The women’s American team does better than the American men’s team. Even if the total women’s World Cup generates less revenue than the men’s, based on quality of the team within a sex, the women deserve as much as the men.

          1. Any argument for equal compensation should distinguish between international level and club level. I could see an argument for the USSF pooling all revenues from all international tournaments and games and distributing these equally among men’s and women’s teams.

            But the argument for doing this should not be based on performance…right now at least the US women can no longer claim to be better than the men relative to their competition, as both have now been dumped out of the World Cup in the first knockout game!

            And judging on how much better women’s football is getting around the world, we are going to see a lot more early exits for the US women.

            And at club level, I cannot see this argument holding up. Should the WNBA team based in Los Angeles get paid as much as the Lakers? Should the opener for a star comedian get paid as much as the star?

          2. Joe is incorrect comparing the physical performance of either sex or how it would play out if they played against each other, they are separate entities and must be judged as such. Having said that, arguing for equal income based on “quality” is equally incorrect. The only metric that counts, in my opinion, is revenue, and currently the revenue generated is higher in the men’s leagues. In the American league the domestic revenue is almost equal but the difference in pay has had more to do with how the USWNT negotiated the pay system (guranteed income) vs the USMNT (performance bonuses). Unsurprisingly the suite went nowhere. Regarding the World Cup the way prize money is doled out is proportional to revenue and even then the women’s pot was increased well above this metric compared to the previous cup (by a factor of 3). So although the money pot for this year’s Cup was 110 million, versus 440 million for the 2022 men’s, the revenue generated was 570 million vs 7.4 billion. This year the female World Cup has been a net zero for the first time. Revenue will keep increasing and salaries with it, but in the end the question is if women will sell as many t-shirts.

    2. Players aren’t even paid equally within the same team, even though they all do the same amount of work. A top striker will usually earn significantly more than a right back, for example. Is that “unfair”?

      English Premiership players earn significantly more than a player in MLS (the American men’s league), even though they are all running around for 90 minutes. Is that unfair too? Should every soccer league in the world pool its revenues and pay every player equally?

      In the US, we’ve had a women’s professional basketball league (WNBA) for 3 decades. They earn considerably less than NBA players, because the market for their services is less. Specifically, they aren’t able to negotiate the same amount of broadcasting rights, they don’t generate the same amount of ticket revenue, etc.

      Ultimately, in football as in basketball, far fewer people are interested in spending time and money on a consistent basis viewing the women’s game compared to the men’s game. Large tournaments such as the World Cup are distortive of interest in the women’s game in the same way that the Olympics are for sports like swimming…after the competition is over everyone goes back to ignoring it.

      Of the massive amounts of money available in football these days, especially in Europe, most of it is generated by interest in the men’s game. Therefore, “equal pay” would mean huge redistribution of money earned from interest in the men’s game to women.

      I don’t think that is fair in any sense, and if it were the women who were generating the majority of the interest (and therefore the money), then nobody would be arguing that the women should give up their money for the sake of men. That would be considered sexist.

    3. I believe the women get a greater proportion of the revenue generated from their WC than the men, make what you will of that. I’ve also seen an interview with women players saying we can thank the men’s tournament for increasing their earnings and help fund their game.
      As I thought then, the trick is to hold Fifa accountable and keep the pressure on for the long term and grow womens football.

      1. Maybe some day they can all go to Saudi Arabia and make much more. Far more than any of them are worth.

        1. Thats a little uncharitable..more funding, more time on the field, increased good competition, skill levels go up, more money at stake, tougher coaches, better games and excitment levels with matched teams.
          Spain I thought looked sharp and attacked at every opportunity, they were the better team.
          I just watched “match of the day” some of these premier players made howlers.

          1. People who enjoy women’s football are free to spend their money on it. Most football fans, those who truly are obsessed with the sport, just find the men’s game better.

            And count me as one of them. I’ve watched a lot of women’s football in the past few years. It certainly has improved. But it is so slow, it it not particularly technical, and the field often seems too large for the players. I honestly think that women’s football would benefit from a smaller field and smaller goal.

  2. The Spanish title is fine expect for a small detail: the inverted exclamation mark at the beginning is missing.
    ¡Felicidades a España!

  3. I always stumble over words like “deserves”. If Football Player F earns less than Football Player M but “deserves” to earn the same, how is that “just dessert” to be enforced? Should M be taxed by force of law to pay more to F than F’s services are worth on the market? Or should citizen C, who doesn’t give a rat’s patootie about football of either sex*, be taxed by force of law to top up the wages of F so poor little M doesn’t sulk and quit? You just know what the “win-win” solution would look like.
    * as long as men aren’t playing as ringers on the women’s team.

    1. * as long as men aren’t playing as ringers on the women’s team.
      FIFA lets each country decide their own rules on eligibility for women’s teams, and so the captain of Zambia’s World Cup squad was a man.

      Fortunately, Zambia didn’t make it past the group stage.

      Naturally, you wouldn’t know Banda’s sex from The Guardian‘s coverage…

  4. As I mentioned below the line of today’s Hili, it was a bittersweet day for Olga Carmona, who scored the winning goal for Spain. She found out after the match that her father had died on Friday. (Her family and friends had decided to keep his death a secret from her until after the game.)

    I was hoping that England would win, but Spain’s victory was a fair outcome.

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