On top of volunteering for FIFA in the host city of Ottawa, I also have a Stadium Pass to all of the Ottawa matches + tickets to the Gold Medal game! I have basically handed my life over to the Women’s World Cup (WWC) for the next two months, but as a Canadian who loves soccer, this is once-in-a-lifetime stuff. This is also the first time that the WWC has hosted 24 teams, so fans are seeing 8 tournament newbies, some of which are bound to surprise people.
After the first round of play, there are differences in team chemistry, depth and skill level that have emerged. Germany being ranked No.1 is absolutely on the mark, as is U.S.A. being ranked No.2, and France’s No.3 ranking. These are the teams to watch as we head into the elimination rounds. However, all of the middle teams (and here I am thinking Canada, Sweden, Nigeria, Netherlands, Colombia, and Spain) will undoubtedly cause upsets. Japan and Brazil are my two question-marks as the former has been performing below expectations, and the latter tends to self-destruct during crucial matches…I am hoping they will surprise me!
What really interests me is how the infrastructure and funding for women’s soccer is reflected in the matches between countries. Cote d’Ivoire’s thrashing at the feet of the Germans has a little bit to do with playing the best team in the world, and a lot to do with their lack of preparation for the WWC because of poor funding and their newness to the game at this elite level (to read more, see Globe and Mail). Going into the second round of matches, I am curious if Canada will take control and dominate against New Zealand, if Sweden (coached by Pia Sundhage who is the former head coach of the U.S.A) will cause an upset and beat the U.S.A. like they have in the past, and if Colombia can continue their offensive energy when they take on France. We shall see.
Pictures*** from Ottawa matches played on June 7th are below, enjoy!
[Match 1: Thailand vs Norway & Match 2: Germany vs Cote d’Ivoire]
***All pictures © Cristina Murano