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Women’s sports have always been in the shadow of men. There are a couple of sports where you could argue women get as much attention as men but rarely do they draw the same audiences and as a result the same prize fund. This has caused some controversy in recent years as many women argue the awards should be the same as for the men, however, this is a tough argument to win when the prize is directly correlated to the revenue gained from the event and men’s events simply generate more revenue. This is starting to change. Women’s sports are slowly growing in prize funds, wages, and audience numbers. People are starting to realize that there is an incredible wealth of talent in women’s sports and an incredible level of competition. Recently a record was broken in women’s sport that highlights the growing level of ability in some places and the growing attention on the sport.

The United States women’s national team was playing Thailand in the opening game of the women’s world cup. The World Cup received a lot of hype because it was being covered by more media than ever before, had sold more tickets, and appeared to have a stronger global audience. Around the world, football is a male-dominated sport. The USA is one of the few countries where women play from a young age in organized teams and continue to play through college. This generally makes the USA the heavy favorites for the tournament and 2019 was no different. The opening game against Thailand was always a non-event, there would always be one winner.

The game started as many expected. The USA came out strong and aggressive. They held the ball in the Thailand half of the pitch and by the fifth minute had scored the first goal. It was the third shot. However, it was ruled offside by the referee after a video review. In the 12th minute, the first goal went in and was counted. At half time the US was ahead 3-0. Nothing unusual so far. The second half started and over the next 45 minutes, the USA scored another ten goals. They won the game 13 – 0.

In doing so they broke the record for the most goals scored by a team in a world cup match (men or women’s), broke the record for the largest margin of victory in a world cup match, broke the record for the most individual goal scorers in a world cup match and finally tied with the most goals scored by a single player in a world cup match. It was an incredible night for the women’s USA team and showed that the preparations for the World Cup had gone very well and they were hitting the tournament in top form. Thailand was never the team they were preparing for but they were now even heavier favorites to beat England and other worthy opponents.

Yet the media was not so kind to the women’s team. They were criticized for their over-zealous celebrations towards the end of the game. Celebrating a goal makes sense but the thirteenth goal of the game – did it really need such fanfare? I think the team was perfectly right in how they celebrated. The world cup is the biggest tournament in the world and each goal scored increases that scorer’s statistics and reputation in the annals of history. If this was done in the men’s world cup and the men celebrated in the same way, would they have been criticized? It is impossible to know but thankfully the women paid no attention and went on to win the World Cup with 58,000 people in attendance for the final.