2023’s FIFA Women’s World Cup highlights cultural, social, and economic aspects of women’s sports

Investing in women’s sports fosters change and equality

The 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup shows a great example of the adversities women face in sports and the celebration of how far athletes have come. (Wikicommons/Ilgar Jafarov)

The 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup shows a great example of the adversities women face in sports and the celebration of how far athletes have come. (Wikicommons/Ilgar Jafarov)

In an exhilarating finale of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023, Spain secured a captivating 1-0 victory against England at Sydney’s Accor Stadium on Aug. 20. 

The Spanish team, led by captain Olga Carmona, found the crucial breakthrough with Carmona’s goal in the first half, a lead they successfully maintained throughout the match. On the other hand, England’s closest opportunity materialized in the opening half, as Lauren Hemp’s attempt was thwarted by the framework.

This triumphant result not only marked a significant achievement for Spain, but also earned them their inaugural Women’s World Cup title.

We’ve seen shocking performances this year, from Olympic champion Canada’s early exit at the FIFA Women’s World Cup to four-time world cup winner’s United States knockout. 

Canada failed to emerge from a tough Group B, tying no. 40 Nigeria 0-0, rallying to edge No. 22 Ireland, and crashing 4-0 to No. 10 Australia in a do-or-die finale. TSN reported one player, Quinn, became the first-ever openly trans, non-binary athlete to compete at the tournament.

The presence of openly 2SLGBTQ+ athletes has created a new generation of trailblazers and icons within women’s soccer. Pioneers like Megan Rapinoe and Abby Wambach have used their platforms to advocate for 2SLGBTQ+ rights both on and off the field. Their leadership extends beyond their athletic achievements, inspiring change and challenging societal norms.

While 2SLGBTQ+ representation in women’s soccer has made significant strides, challenges persist. Homophobia and discrimination still exist within sports, and the fight for equal treatment continues.

As someone who grew up playing soccer and looking up to the likes of Christine Sinclair and Tobin Heath, I can only describe it as “openly expressed sorrow” at witnessing the farewell of legendary athletes like Canada’s Christine Sinclair, Brazil’s Marta Vieira da Silva, and the U.S.’s Rapinoe, who bid adieu with a final performance alongside their respective teams.

Being a prominent occurrence within women’s sports, the Women’s World Cup serves as a crucial juncture for contemplating the arduous struggles that women and girls endure in numerous nations just to step onto a sports field. Even after achieving this feat, they encounter challenges such as intimidation, reprisals, unequal compensation, harassment, and instances of sexual assault.

The gender pay gap is glaringly evident in women’s soccer. Despite their remarkable achievements and dedication, female players often earn significantly less than their male counterparts, a disparity that undermines the principle of equal pay for equal work.

The emergence of Angel City FC represents a significant milestone in the landscape of women’s soccer, as the club paves the way for innovation, diversity, and empowerment both on and off the field. The high-profile ownership group featuring Natalie Portman, Serena Williams, Abby Wambach, Lilly Singh, Jessica Chastain, America Ferrera, and Jennifer Garner underscores the idea that investing in women’s sports is not just a financial venture, but a meaningful step toward fostering change and equality. 

As a member of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL), Angel City FC challenges conventional norms in women’s sports. Its determination to push boundaries and challenge preconceived notions is reshaping perceptions of what women’s sports can achieve.

Most recently, Angel City FC’s star player and two-time world champion, Christen Press, along with her partner and teammate, Tobin Heath, offered an exclusive glimpse into the 2023 Women’s World Cup in their podcast, titled “The RE-CAP Show.” This presentation comes alive with untold narratives of both victories and heartaches experienced along the journey towards achieving success. 

Both Heath and her co-host Press echoed the sentiment of heartbreak and disappointment in the abrupt Round of 16 elimination, marking the United States Women’s National Team’s (USWNT) shortest World Cup campaign ever.

We have seen a new champion arise this year and this means the game is constantly changing, and so are we.