The Women’s World Cup has begun!

Opening ceremony of the Women's World Cup in Berlin
(Image credit: Thomas Peter/Reuters)

The 2011 Women’s World Cup kicked off in Germany yesterday. So if you, like me, felt the men’s tournament last summer flew by before you could adequately develop obsessive team loyalties, another summer of soccer is here!

In the opening matches, France beat Nigeria and Germany, the two-time defending champion and tournament favorite, defeated Canada. The U.S. team, though still ranked No. 1 in the world, has suffered a few recent losses going into the tournament. But it remains a strong contender with a shot at winning its first Cup since 1999. Brazil, led by all-star striker Marta, is also looking pretty damn good.

The hype leading up to the tournament has clearly been feeble compared to the excitement that greeted the men’s Cup last year. And I’m sure we’re in for yet another discussion about this lack of media attention–does it cause the lack of interest in women’s sports or simply reflect it? Is FIFA promoting the Cup well enough? Are the media to blame for not covering women’s sports? Are viewers just not interested?

I’ve written about this conversation before, and, honestly, I’m kinda tired of it. I hate the implication that someone–whether it’s the media or viewers–has an obligation to support women’s sports out of some abstract commitment to gender equality.

Fuck that. You should watch the World Cup this summer because women’s soccer is beautiful–and, in my expert humble opinion, superior to the men’s game. You should watch with a group of friends–preferably of mixed genders–because watching sports together is a really fun thing to do. And you should drink beers and get a little belligerent, because, duh, that’s how it’s done.

All 32 games will air on ESPN or ESPN2. You can find the full schedule here. You can meet the psychic octopus Ophilia here. You can find out which players to watch here.

Atlanta, GA

Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director in charge of Editorial at Feministing. Maya has previously worked at NARAL Pro-Choice New York and the National Institute for Reproductive Health and was a fellow at Mother Jones magazine. She graduated with a B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. A Minnesota native, she currently lives, writes, edits, and bakes bread in Atlanta, Georgia.

Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Editorial.

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  • davenj

    “You should watch the World Cup this summer because women’s soccer is beautiful–and, in my expert humble opinion, superior to the men’s game.”

    I dunno. I saw a lot more noticeable flubs in the Canada-Germany game than I normally see in a men’s WC game.

    The two sports are different, with these games dependent more on team passing and set-up plays. They also move slower, which can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on what you like about soccer.

    Regardless, all these games are getting aired, and are rewatchable on ESPN3 as well. Let’s pull for the US like it’s 1999.

  • Matt

    At least in terms of showing the games, ESPN covers both cups on its channels (I don’t recall how many of the men’s TV broadcasts were relegated to ESPN2, but TV packages that include ESPN usually have ESPN2 anyway). And at least in the US, the team’s prospects are better, so the channel should at least provide pretty thorough analysis in the evenings before and after the US plays (after all, the network does want to promote its product).

    I think an unfortunate difficulty in understanding the issue is that while we know the men’s game gets greater coverage than the women’s game, the level of coverage is difficult to quantify, so it is difficult to assess how levels of coverage (and the disparity) have changed over time and which media spheres are more balanced.

    Also, no drinking beer for me — that’s not how I roll. Also, like daven, claiming the women’s game is better is a tough sell. Unless the dimensions of the playing field are more suitable to the pace of the game or there are rules specific to the women’s game (like how women in college basketball have a shorter shot-clock than men [30 v/ 35 seconds], which requires teams to be able to run their offense *in this lifetime* rather than disproportionately reward “disciplined” teams), it’s difficult to objectively justify.

    Now hopefully England and Mexico can break up this 1 – 1 tie. >_>

    • Maya

      Well, right, obviously saying that women’s soccer is better than men’s soccer can’t be “objectively justified” any more than saying that “men’s soccer is better than women’s soccer” can. As davenj says, there are differences to the way the game is played. And it’s my subjective opinion that the women’s one is often more fun to watch.

      • davenj

        I wonder what your opinion is on the turnover rates, then. As much as pacing can affect a viewing experience, the big thing I notice aside from pacing and style differences is the gap in dribbling and ball control skill in this format, and the resulting turnovers. There are also considerably more long passes because of the odds of turning it over while dribbling.

        In my experience this tends to turn me off of the game, but I wonder how others feel.

  • emma gamboa

    My favorite part of this WC has been the song selection for the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup: “Happiness” by a Beyonce knock-off (no offense) Alexis Jordan. I’m trying hard to make the connections w/soccer or any sport and this song. Here’s what I have so far: She sings about love and people love soccer? Who runs the world cup? It’s def not girls.