By Amy Saad
The involvement and representation of women in sports have consistently sparked significant discussions and disagreements. While football was historically male-dominated, it has emerged as the fastest-growing global sport for women, a transformation notably exemplified in Australia. The 2023 Women's FIFA World Cup marked a distinct departure from all previous portrayals of women's football, standing as a monumental event. As stated in The Guardian, “every pinnacle and peak still conceals another even higher one than the summit just reached.” Undeniably, the progress in women's football has led to heightened popularity and has played a significant role in narrowing the gender gap within the realm of sports.
During the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, the victory of the US was regarded as the pinnacle moment for women’s football achievements. What makes 2023 any different? 2023 saw the tournament hosted in Sydney and Brisbane, the Matildas’ greatest progress and a record number of ticket sales and sell-out crowds. This tournament was especially powerful in demonstrating the success of women in sport, contributing massively to bridging the gap between men and women in sport. In addition to these successes, the FIFA Women’s Cup saw the tightening of the global attainment gap- Australia, Japan and Colombia reached the final eight, while Jamaica and Nigeria were not far off.
Nevertheless, the game still exhibits imperfections, with the most glaring issue being the contrasting financial support, which significantly hinders the growth of women's soccer. There is an evident disparity in prize money between the Women's World Cup, which stands at approximately AUD 167.8 million, and the men's tournament held in Qatar last year, which boasted a prize fund of approximately AUD 671.8 million. This glaring inequality is both substantial and unjustifiable. FIFA has expressed its "ambition" to achieve equality in pay by the upcoming World Cups in 2026 and 2027. However, this ambition must evolve into a tangible accomplishment that can subsequently be reinvested into grassroots development. If this transformation occurs, the next Women's World Cup has the potential to surpass even the current one and become an even greater peak for the sport.
See highlights from the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup: https://www.foxsports.com/soccer/2023-fifa-womens-world-cup/highlights