In an exhilarating Women’s World Cup final showdown, Spain emerged victorious with a 1-0 win over England, concluding a tournament that shattered attendance and TV records and ignited hopes of a surge in interest for women’s soccer. The ninth edition of this global spectacle, co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand, marked a historic milestone as the first Women’s World Cup held in the southern hemisphere.
Despite waning local interest following Australia’s exit in the semi-finals, the combined efforts of both host nations have attracted nearly two million fans across nine host cities. The final crowd of 75,784 added to this remarkable tally, showcasing the enduring popularity of the sport.
The decisive goal came from Olga Carmona, setting Spain apart from England in an electrifying game where Spain dominated the majority of the clear-cut opportunities. The fervor of the occasion was evident as thousands of fans gathered around Sydney’s Stadium Australia hours before kick-off. Drummers and stilt walkers added to the festival-like atmosphere, creating a memorable experience for spectators.
A notable feature of this final was that both England and Spain were making their debut appearance at a Women’s World Cup final. Despite England’s football legacy, the women’s team continues to chase its first major trophy since the men’s tournament victory in 1966.
The semi-final clash between Australia and England witnessed a remarkable average viewership of 7.13 million on the Seven Network channels, a record-breaking figure in the history of research firm OzTAM. The Matildas’ matches garnered significant attention, with tickets being sold out well in advance. Organizers anticipate that the average attendance will exceed 30,000 once all 64 matches are concluded.
In comparison to the previous Women’s World Cup in France, which attracted over 1.1 million fans to 52 matches with an average crowd of 21,756, the current tournament has displayed even stronger engagement. However, demand was relatively weaker in New Zealand, where the early exit of the local team affected ticket sales. FIFA’s efforts to distribute free tickets contributed to higher attendance figures, with White Ferns matches setting soccer crowd records in the country.
While the players of Australia’s national team received considerable prize money for their achievements, the grassroots level of women’s soccer in Australia calls for additional resources. Matildas striker Sam Kerr emphasized the need for enhanced funding at the development and grassroots levels, highlighting the importance of support in all aspects of the sport.
The impressive World Cup journey of the Matildas has sparked discussions about increased investment in women’s soccer in Australia. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese pledged A$200 million for women’s sport, aiming to improve sports facilities and offer substantial resources to soccer and other disciplines. Ensuring the availability of women’s sporting events on free-to-air television is also a priority for the government.
Both finalists, England and Spain, have faced distinct challenges in their journey towards the Women’s World Cup final. England’s women have historically lagged behind their male counterparts in terms of interest and funding, but recent successes are gradually changing the landscape. On the other hand, Spain’s team has encountered internal conflicts, affecting player participation and preparation for the tournament.
As the final concluded in Sydney, both Spain and England stood on the cusp of history, vying for their maiden world title. This event encapsulated the growing momentum of women’s soccer, transcending borders and cultures. The triumph of Spain and the spirited efforts of all teams involved symbolize a pivotal moment in the evolution of the women’s game.