Football or soccer? As it turns out, media coverage tells us a lot about where allegiances lie when it comes to the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Nearly 150,000 reports have been filed about the international sporting event since the tournament began on June 7. From Cinderella stories to fierce new rivalries, here are a few highlights headed into the final matches.
Success Story or Mayhem Magnet
White the popularity of soccer continues to increase stateside, the US isn’t exactly known for its soccer super fans. So, what’s contributing to the coverage of the U.S. team so far? Well, it’s not just the team’s stand-out stars, Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe, nor is it the U.S.’s record-tying (as of this writing!) number of wins. Two controversies are driving coverage of the U.S. team ever higher. Early in the tournament, the team made headlines—and rightfully so—for the glaring pay disparity between the U.S. men’s and women’s national teams. But that controversy was overshadowed when England’s head coach, Phil Neville, accused the U.S. team of sending staffers to his hotel to spy on his team in advance of the July 2 semi-final match.
Personalities Dominate: Popular players and coaches have dominated the month-long FIFA Women’s Cup news cycle. Leading the way for the Lionesses are Phil Neville, Nikita Parris, Steph Houghton and Golden Boot contender, Ellen White. French footballer Wendie Renard and her coach, Corinne Diacre remain beloved headline-generators in their home country, despite losing to the U.S. in the quarterfinals. Also in the headline (and Golden Boot) hunt are Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe, while their coach, Jillian Ellis, captures plenty of media attention on her own. And Australian star Sam Kerr rounds out the top 10 when it comes to personalities in the news. Interestingly, none of the players from Sweden or the Netherlands are the subject of much conversation, even though both countries are still in the running for the final match.
Game, Set, Match: It’s worth noting the FIFA Women’s World Cup isn’t the only international sporting event to take the media stage this month. The first round of the Wimbledon tennis tournament kicked off on July 1, and international media coverage of the two events have been neck-and-neck ever since. Wimbledon has nabbed an average of only 200 fewer stories than the World Cup in the last three days, due in large part to the big personalities and major upsets making headlines at this year’s tournament.