Alex Morgan: “In terms of visibility in terms of gaining more gaining more coverage for women’s soccer, we see a huge bump of that coverage and of media talking about women’s football when the World Cup comes around and the after effect of that especially in the countries that perform well.” (Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
Alex Morgan sees both sides now, as in the pros and cons of staging a World Cup – men’s and women’s – every two years instead of the traditional four years.
The U.S. women’s national team forward sees the benefits of helping grow the women’s game beyond American shores, but realizes a biennial World Cup will break from history.
In other words, Morgan, appointed to the FIFA advisory board to develop the women’s game, hasn’t made up her mind quite yet on which path she would like to see the sport take.
“I see the pros and cons,” she said, adding that “just with the history of the World Cup, I think it’s really difficult to grasp the concept of changing from every four years to two years because historically it’s just what we’ve done and what we’re used to.”
Women have two major tournaments every four years, a World Cup (the last one in 2019) and the Olympics (the 2020 Tokyo Games pushed to this year).
But there is a flip side as well.
While the game has made great strides in the United States, it lags behind in many other countries.
“I also look at the growth of the women’s game and how it can really benefit domestic or club leagues around the world, every dederation, and their players,” Morgan said during a conference call Tuesday previewing the USWNT-South Korea in Kansas, Mo. Thursday night. “In terms of visibility in terms of gaining more gaining more coverage for women’s soccer, we see a huge bump of that coverage and of media talking about women’s football when the World Cup comes around and the after effect of that especially in the countries that perform well.
“So. it’s definitely an ongoing conversation, but I think having that conversation with the FIFA advisory group was really great for me to wrap my head more around the benefits of it rather than looking at historically what the World Cup has always been.”
Of course, then there is the financial end, such as the women getting greater compensation. The prize money they receive from a Women’s World Cup is paltry compared to the men.
Money could very well be a major roadblock. A biennial World Cup would mean more qualifiers and more money needed for the women’s game.
“The financial piece was definitely part of our conversation,” Morgan said. “How do we how do we continue to incentivize and put more money into the women’s game? So that’s a huge piece of it as well, I don’t think you can have one without the other. You can’t have biannual World Cup without, without addressing the financial piece.”
Goalkeeper Adriana Franch, who also was on the Zoom call, hasn’t made up her mind yet.
“We want to continue to grow this game. We want to continue to bring the attention to women’s sports and women’s soccer specifically,” she said. “I just was recently at the WNBA championship and recognizing that the fans are there to support and they want to see these games. When you put the marketing behind it and when you bring events to these fans, they’re willing to support it.
“So there’s definitely pros with having a World Cup every two years. But there’s a concern and at the end of the day when you go from something that you’re used to, then change. Change is always difficult and understanding. If that change makes sense, then we proceed. If it doesn’t, then we don’t.”