Reigning world champions, the Americans are entering the Womens World Cup 2019 on Tuesday against Thailand. The USA, which has the best track record of women’s football, has become, little by little, the reference team.
The Americans, reigning world champions, are the reference team of women’s football: a review of the reasons for this domination, before their entry in the running in the World Cup 2019, Tuesday in Reims against Thailand.
Hegemony in numbers
With three world titles and four Olympic gold medals, the United States team has the best record in women’s football.
Since the first World Cup in 1991 in China, the Americans have always been on the podium in seven editions of the global tournament (three times sacred, once second, three times third).
Their Olympic record is even more impressive, even if they remain on a 5th place at the Rio 2016 Olympics, their worst result in an international meeting.
Since the appearance of women’s football on the Olympic program in 1996 in Atlanta, they have only had two defeats, 26 wins and 5 draws. The Americans have also won eight of the ten editions of the Gold Cup, the flagship competition of Concacaf, and have never been ranked below the … 2nd place in the Fifa rankings created in 2003.
15.9 million players
To measure the importance of women’s football in the United States, two figures: according to data published by FIFA in 2014, 15.9 of the 30.1 million players in the world are American. “What is most striking is the impressive number of women who play in the United States from an early age across the country,” said Mark Parsons, coach of the Portland Women’s Professional Championship.
The “soccer” US women’s draws its strength and vitality in the university system since a law passed in 1972, called “Title IX” , obliges universities to create sports programs dedicated exclusively to students.
“The + Title IX + offered more opportunities for women to play sports and put in place a competitive environment for the players, which ultimately allowed the national team to excel,” says Amanda Duffy. President of the NWSL (Women’s Pro League). “There are currently 400 or even 500 teams for players aged 18 to 22, nowhere else in the world do we see that,” says Parsons.
The English technician, who coached the Chelsea women’s team , also explains the American domination by a state of mind instilled from childhood: “We learn here from an early age, that all that matters, it’s winning .
Professional since 2001
Two years after the “Team USA” home victory in 1999, the women’s “soccer” entered the professional era with a first championship (WUSA) opposing eight teams.
This first attempt lasted only three seasons, but it then gave birth to the WPS in 2008, then to the NWSL in 2013. In 2018, the NWSL beat for the fifth consecutive year its record of attendance (650,564 spectators by season, an increase of 73% compared to 2013.
With an average of 6,024 spectators per game, the NWSL is certainly far from the MLS, the North American men’s elite (21,873), but it far exceeds the men’s championships 2nd and 3rd divisions (4,916) and other professional women’s leagues around the world like the Australian W-League (2.139).
“More than 50 players competing at the 2015 Womens World Cup were playing in our championship. We are counting on the same number this year in France, it shows the level of our championship. It benefits everyone, our national team too, “ said President Duffy. “In 2015, the victory of the American selection had boosted our attendance, TV audiences and the sale of derivatives,” she recalls.
Stronger than boys
When the Americans make the law on world football, their male colleagues post for a better result a quarter-final World Cup (2002), if we except the semifinal of 1930, during a first experimental edition, on invitations.
Worse, they failed to qualify for the last World Cup last summer in Russia. This disparity in balance sheets is explained by the specificities of the American sports landscape, according to former international Brandi Chastain.
“The girls started playing football because they did not have what the boys had with American football, basketball and baseball,” said the two-time world champion and two-time Olympic champion.
“Soccer has become our sport and we have done everything we can to make the most of it,” concludes Chastain.