Back to World Cup basics with Bad Football Fan

My name is Emma and I’m a writer, politics student and goalkeeper, with my home base divided between Scotland and Rwanda. You can find me over at badfootballfan.com where I write about what goes on in the head of a bad football fan. Bad Football Fan refers to not being able to, or simply not wanting to, conform to the stereotypical football fan, the loud male know-it-all, accepting that it’s okay not to know everything and realising your fandom is just as valid. It has also grown to be a space where I’m looking at the women’s game and how to be part of being in charge of how women are represented and presented in the footballing world today. In my writing, I aim to bring out all of the complexity, multi-dimensionality and, simply, humanity that fits into a woman. Ahead of this years Women’s World Cup, I’m going to be writing a few posts for This Fan Girl. For my first post, we’re taking it back to the beginning with a round up of things you need to know before June 7th.

Emma - Bad Football Fan

The Women’s World Cup in pictures

There had been international tournaments being played for decades before the first official FIFA Women’s World Cup kicked off in China PR, as Italy and Mexico hosted World Championships in the ’70s, but it took until 1991 for FIFA to set up an official international tournament for women’s football. Twelve nations were competing in the inaugural event, and the nerve-racking finale took place between USA and Norway, with Michelle Akers famous last-minute winner seeing the US win 2-1 and getting to lift the first official World Cup trophy. Former team mate Mia Hamm spoke about Akers, saying “She was a warrior. She was our everything.”

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The next World Cup took place in Sweden and saw Norway going up against Germany in the final, with the Scandinavians coming out on top 2-0, a huge win. In 1999 the tournament took place in the USA, and this was a record-breaking one in many ways. There was more media coverage than ever before, the amount of participating teams had been upped to 16 and on 10 July 1999, a world women’s sporting record attendance of 90,185 fans were about to witness a fantastic finale as the US took on China in the final at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. The game finished 0-0 after extra-time and went to penalties, and the iconic picture of Brandi Chastain taking her shirt off and going down on her knees celebrating after scoring USA’s fifth penalty which secured the win for the Americans, is still a strong picture illustrating just how much it meant for women’s football in general and the players in particular.

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The World Cup 2003 once again took place in the US, this time with Germany scoring a golden goal header in extra time against Sweden, winning 2-1. In 2007 China was the hosts as Germany claimed a back-to-back World Cup title with a convincing 2-0 win against Brazil. German goalkeeper Nadine Angerer went through the whole tournament without conceding a goal, and her saving Marta’s penalty in the final has gone down as a historic moment.

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Germany then became hosts of the tournament in 2011, as Japan and the US were battling it out in the final. 2-2 after extra time, with Japan coming from behind twice, led to them outclassing the Americans on penalties, clinching the title as the first Asian champions. Then came the 2015 edition in Canada, a tournament that broke all records. The number of teams competing had now risen to 24, but in the final we got to see the USA go up against Japan once again, this time with the Americans getting revenge for their last meeting, coming out on top in a 5-2 extravaganza.

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This was the highest score ever in a World Cup final, as the USA won the title for the third time. Japan broke records too, with midfielder Homare Sawa playing her sixth World Cup, a record she shared with Brazil’s Formiga (until the Brazilian was picked also for this World Cup). A much-debated issue that arose during this tournament was the fact that they had to play all of their games on turf, which I think we can all agree on is way worse to play on than natural grass, due to the texture of artificial turf.

This years favourites…

France is a big favourite for many, as they will be playing on home soil in front of a lot of their fans. They’re not in one of the toughest groups of the tournament, and with a lot of big names like Amandine Henry, Wendy Renard, Eugenie Le Sommer and Aïssatou Tounkara, they have the chance to go far.

Probably the biggest favourites for the World Cup title is current holders the USA, who will be looking to get their fourth title. This is a team that knows how to win, with the likes of Kelley O’Hara, Lindsey Horan, Alex Morgan, Mallory Pugh and Meghan Rapinoe to name a few, mixing youth and experience.

England has grown over the past few years to become a bona fide contender, having a reliable squad containing stars and winners like Toni Duggan, Fran Kirby, Lucy Bronze and Steph Houghton, and after they won the SheBelieves Cup back in March, confidence will be flying high.

Ones to watch…

Lindsey Horan is a creative goalscorer who did not go the conventional way for an American soccer player, bypassing her college career to sign with PSG when she was 18 years old, scoring 46 goals in 58 appearances for the club, which shows that she’s not afraid to do things her way. She now plays for Portland Thorns and had her lifelong dream achieved when finally being on the roster for the US national team.

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Formiga will participate in a record 7th World Cup (most by any woman or man), and at 41 years of age she also just signed a new contract with PSG for the 2019-20 season. She’s also the only player to be present at all women’s football Olympic Games tournaments since the first edition back in 1996. The midfielder will do her best to see her Brazil into the final, just like in 2007.

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Sam Kerr has a lot resting on her shoulder, being the captain of the Matildas as well as one of the top goal scorers in the team, but she herself takes it all very calmly, emphasising that having fun is important when playing. The 25-year-old is the all-time leading scorer in the NWSL and three-time PFA Women’s Footballer of the Year.

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Lucy Bronze is an important cog in the England defence who is extremely versatile, hardworking and also scores goals like it’s nobody’s business. She’s won the PFA Women’s Players’ Player of the Year twice, she’s BBC’s Women’s Footballer of the Year 2018 and she was shortlisted for the first women’s Ballon d’Or.

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Vivianne Miedema is the youngster on everyone’s lips after her terrific season in Arsenal, which saw her become the league’s top scorer with 22 goals in 19 games. The Dutch forward is simply lethal in front of the goal, but also knows how to set her teammates up, with 10 assists to her name this season. She was also part of the Dutch team that won the Euros 2017, and she contributed with four goals in six games.

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Cheers for reading! Be sure to follow Bad Football Fan on Instagram too.

AMY DRUCQUER