In a single day in July the finals of the FIFA Women’s World Cup (WWC), Copa America (CA), and the CONCACAF Gold Cup (GC) were decided. The USA won the WWC, Brazil won CA, and Mexico won the GC. Today we will address the WWC and the CA, tomorrow we will talk about the GC.
FIFA Women’s World Cup
For the women, it was an extended coronation of what many will consider one of the very best female teams to compete on the global stage. The USA had to get by all three of the tourney’s semifinalists, beating Sweden at the group stage, a resurgent England peaking at the right time, in a semifinal match, and the current European champions, Holland, in the final, to lift the cup.
Previously, the team had to beat a tough Spanish side, and the tournament hosts, France. With the exception of Brazil, Germany, and Japan, the USA had to defeat nearly every top ten team in the world to become champions in 2019. The ladies never doubted themselves and won seven consecutive games.
Parity in financial treatment aside—and to be fair the 2019 WWC drew a fraction of the viewership or attendance of what the men’s one did in 2018, and (unofficial figures show) less than any of the regional tournaments such as this summer’s African Nations Cup, GC or CA—the technical skills on display in 2019 WWC were at a much higher level than in WWC Canada 2015 and the overall play was much more entertaining.
Whether expansion to 32 teams in 2023 is warranted is still a debatable question but whatever country hosts the next competition will have a true and tried quality global brand to showcase.
In Copa America, we got to see the continental divide between the one giant nation in South America, Brazil, and all the others. Even as hosts, the Brazilians were hard put to have any homer advantages as each match was officiated by refs from competing nations who mostly, Ecuadorean Roddy Zambrano aside, favored the host’s rivals.
If both the US-and-Mexican controlled media coverage available in USA and the majority of the Latin American media are to be believed, the Brazilians should have lost several matches, often received preferential treatment, and were barely true champions. It would be interesting to see if at any future juncture any USA-available broadcaster will hire a Brazilian commentator to pair up with the every-other-nation-in-the-Americas rosters they currently have.
In truth, in CA 2019, the hosts overcame the loss of their one superstar just before the tourney began, had three key players injured at critical junctures and overcame their absences, suffered unconscionable fouling in every match and criminal fouling against Argentina, and still played the best football in the tournament, earning their trophy.
What remains to be seen is if the next Copa America (2020), to be jointly hosted by Argentina and Colombia, and of course to be played using a different format from nearly every CA ever played (as was the case in the Argentine-hosted 1978 World Cup), will be a fair event or instead be smeared with the fraudulent practices of previous events hosted by Lionel Messi’s countrymen. Let’s hope they rise to the occasion and give us a truly magnificent Messi-sendoff tourney.