The U.S. women’s team will face off against France Friday in the biggest match of this year’s World Cup.
It’s technically only a quarterfinal game, but the U.S. and France are favorites for the title and ticket prices have soared. The World Cup as a whole is on pace to set viewership records in the U.S. and abroad as more countries invest in making women’s teams competitive. Italy, a quarterfinal contender, is playing for the title for the first time in 20 years. It’s Argentina’s first World Cup appearance since 2007 and Jamaica is the first Caribbean team ever to qualify.
This rise in popularity comes at the same time as the U.S. Women’s team – three-time Cup winners and reigning champions – is fighting for equal pay with the U.S. men’s team. In March, 28 members of the national team filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against The United States Soccer Federation. It was confirmed last week that both sides have agreed to mediation instead of taking the lawsuit to court.
Jeré Longman, sports reporter for The New York Times covering a variety of international sports and author of “The Girls of Summer: The U.S. Women’s Soccer Team and How It Changed the World”; he is in France at the FIFA Women’s World Cup
Eileen Narcotta-Welp, soccer scholar and assistant professor in exercise and sport science at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse