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UAE Press: Women’s World Cup was a win for female athletes

ABU DHABI, 21st August, 2023 (WAM) — A local newspaper said that Spain’s 1-0 win over England in the final of the FIFA Women’s World Cup on Sunday was a just reward for a sporting nation whose female footballers have already achieved much, including winning Women’s World Cups at under-17 and under-20 levels last year.

“The drama that played out at Sydney’s Stadium Australia was reflected around the world as many English and Spanish fans tuned in to enjoy the game,” The National said in an editorial on Monday.

The result, while significant, reflects only some of the importance of the Women’s World Cup this year. A smoothly run and professional tournament provided a platform for some of the world’s best female athletes to take part in an elite-level competition. This was broadcast around the world and the visibility it provides the women’s game will hopefully inspire the next generation of girls to enjoy sport at whatever level they choose to pursue it.

Once again, a Moroccan squad that found itself in a tough group carried the hopes of the Arab world with it as it dug deep to overcome a heavy loss to Germany with wins against Colombia and South Korea. The departure of the Atlas Lionesses from the tournament after a loss to France was a disappointing end but overall, it was a strong campaign from a country whose men were also a source of Arab pride in the Qatar World Cup last year.

Morocco also made history when Nouhaila Benzina became the first footballer to wear a hijab in a World Cup game.

The daily continued, “The World Cup in Australia and New Zealand this year has demonstrated progress in achieving equality for the women’s game, and women’s sport in general – but a lot of work remains to be done.”

“The fact remains that many professional sportswomen suffer from disparities in pay, media coverage and sponsorship opportunities. When it comes to training facilities, travel expenses and medical care, there is often a vast gulf between how male and female competitors are treated. If elite female athletes with their increasing profile face these issues, then the struggle of women’s sports at amateur or club level is an arduous one,” it added.

Football, as arguably the world’s most popular sport, provides an opportunity for sponsors, broadcasters and promoters to see the value in supporting and driving the game. Millions of people will have watched Sunday’s final – a truly global event – and it increasingly makes sound financial sense to take a commercial interest in women’s sports.

Other stars, such as Tunisian tennis player Ons Jabeur, show how success at the highest level generates favourable coverage and commercial opportunities.

“The result on Sunday will have been disappointing for England but the Spanish players can savour their victory. It has been a tournament to remember and sets the bar high for a future in which the marginalisation of women’s sports increasingly becomes a thing of the past. When it comes to establishing fair play for women’s sports, the game is still there to be won,” the Abu Dhabi-based daily concluded.

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