As featured on NewsNow: Football news

How The Matildas Defied The Sportsbooks In The Women's World Cup

Over the last few years, women's football has really taken on a new level of popularity in Western culture. Following a sustained and innovative approach to advertising female football talent to the world, there has been a significant uptake in the number of women and young girls looking to take up the sport.

We're amidst a generational change, and women's football has long been in the shadows compared to men's. However, over the last decade, numbers have increased dramatically, and some of the viewing figures, especially the Matildas in Australia, rival many of the men's games.

A Source Of National Pride

Aussies have a long and strong tradition of getting behind their sporting heroes. They have excellent form in a range of sports, including swimming, soccer, and netball, where they hold their own against any of the top-performing teams in the world. The Women's World Cup in Australia & New Zealand that has taken place this year has once again shone a light on the immense sporting talent and inspiration that has the ability to transcend cultural and societal problems and unite a country. Many of The Matildas are household names in Australia, with captain Sam Kerr and Ellie Carpenter as the standout names.

However, any list of inspiring female athletes from Australia goes beyond football, with Australian female swimmers and boxers also holding a beacon of hope and inspiration for young athletes nationwide. Few things unite a country in the same way sports can. World Cup tournaments and the Olympics unite a nation, as has been shown countless times. This is why often the host nation puts on a better display than they would if they were playing in another country. With a raucous home crowd to cheer them on, the Matildas have managed to defy the odds and stormed toward the latter stages of the competition, despite being ranked 10th in the world.

The Odds Going Into The World Cup

The sportsbooks aren't going to give too much away, and even though they predicted that the Matildas would put on a much better showing than people might have initially suspected, due to home advantage, even they have been surprised by just how well they have performed against the top teams. England and Spain entered the tournament as favorites, which is understandable given how well both nations have performed over the last few years.

After an iconic win in the women's Euro Championships, the Lionesses have set their sights on a historic World Cup win down under. One of the most impressive factors about England's women winning the Euros was how much it captured the general public's imagination, with many sports outlets claiming that women's football was an even bigger winner.

Despite being the host nation, many sportsbooks said they wouldn't be surprised if the Matildas ran out of steam. However, they have steamrolled their way amongst the bracket of the world's top nations, and they've brought the whole country alongside them on the journey, posting some staggering viewing figures along the way.

The Future Of Women's Football

Women's football has reached a golden age and now challenges men's sports regarding viewing figures. Although the men's World Cup is still the most watched sporting event on the planet by quite some distance, the speed at which the women's game develops surprises many people. Analysts have pointed to a few factors that are helping to drive the women's game. Firstly, there's a disassociation between the men's game and the supporters, which is helping to fuel the popularity of women's football.

The obscene levels of money involved in football, particularly in England, have pushed a lot of domestic fans away, despite global popularity soaring. Many believe that the top level of the men's game is turning into a billionaire's fantasy football tournament and moving away from the communities it once defined. However, many women's players are from the same background but are humble, don't flaunt wealth, and are much more down to earth than many players in the men's game.

We aren't going to cast men's players with the same brush, but with each passing season, players are only interested in money and not the love of the game - while the opposite is true in the women's game. It's this mentality that football fans of all genders are beginning to appreciate more. Any society where women's sport is championed alongside men's is excellent for equality, and it is a proper measurement of how equal women are viewed within that society.

Empty gestures, soundbites, and vapid comments are often ineffective. However, when broadcasters put women's games on the television, free to watch, in front of sell-out stadiums and millions of people tuning in, these are all clear examples of equality being pushed forward.

Video of the day:

About the author

Paul Vegas

Have your say

Subscribe and go ad-free

For only $10 a year

  1. Go Ad-Free
  2. Faster site experience
  3. Support great writing
  4. Subscribe now
Launch Offer: 2 months free

Subscribe and go ad-free

For only $10 a year

Subscribe now
Launch Offer: 2 months free