The U.S. women’s national soccer team began its effort to capture a fourth World Cup championship Tuesday with a record-breaking win.
The U.S. beat Thailand 13-0 in the first round of Group F play.
Along with winning championships and setting records, the U.S. women hope to break through barriers in their sport.
For years, professional women soccer players have suffered low pay and a lack of sponsorship deals. Such problems have a common source: the lack of a large audience.
This year, however, could be different, as France holds the 2019 women’s World Cup event. FIFA, soccer’s governing body, is predicting one billion people will watch the games around the world. That would be an increase of over 30 percent from the 2015 women’s World Cup, held in Canada.
American soccer player and 2015 World Cup winner Julie Ertz says her team is thinking mainly about two things: winning and increasing the sport’s popularity.
She said, “That’s been a huge goal of this team — to continue to grow the sport...It’s exciting to be a part of the growth of the sport.”
The U.S. team is the most successful team in women’s soccer. They have won three World Cups since women joined the event in 1991, four Olympic golds in the last six Games and have topped the FIFA women's teams’ ratings every year but one for the last 11 years.
At an open training session, French children surrounded the U.S. players in hopes of getting autographs. They shouted for Alex Morgan, whose fearless way of playing has made her one of the biggest names in the sport.
Yet, even with their success, the American women earn much less prize money than the less successful U.S. men’s team.
In 2015, the women’s team made $2 million after becoming world champions. A year earlier, the men earned $9 million after losing in the Round of 16 of the World Cup event held in Brazil.
In a sign of growing recognition for the women’s game, the prize money has doubled this year to $4 million. In comparison, France’s victorious men’s team earned $38 million in 2018.
American player Lindsey Horan said this year’s World Cup, “in itself is going to change things for women’s soccer, how we play and how the world sees us.”
I’m Caty Weaver.
The Reuters news agency reported this story. Ashley Thompson adapted it for VOA Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.
Words in This Story
sponsorship - n. an arrangement in which a sponsor agrees to give money to someone or something
audience - n. a group of people who gather together to listen to something (such as a concert) or watch something (such as a movie or play): the people who attend a performance