Ruth Fahy, a Trainee Solicitor in our Sports Law department, has been a vocal advocate of Women’s football in Ireland and a regular media commentator.
Ruth is a co-commentator for RTÉ Sport with George Hamilton during the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019 and had put together her thoughts from the first week of the tournament.
As a player, Ruth played for Castlebar, Galway United and Wexford Youths and represented Ireland at the World University Games. While playing she studied law at the University of Limerick and Nottingham Trent University as well as earning a Degree in Human Nutrition at Dublin Institute of Technology.
Ten days into the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019 and there is much to discuss.
Football-wise, it has been close to what was predicted prior to the tournament kicking off. The favourites remain Corinne Diacre’s formidable French along with Jill Ellis’ goal machines USA. Running them close will be England, the Dutch, Canada, Norway and Germany. Lest we forget dark horses Australia and Italy. 2015 World Cup finalists Japan won’t be sidling out in the last sixteen knockout round either.
Yes, this long list of contenders is for real. The elite quality of women’s football has diluted amongst the multiple and we no longer have a superpower running adrift early on. Come Thursday and the post-match analysis of impending battles such as England-Japan, USA-Sweden and Netherlands-Canada… and we shall know a whole lot more about who is exiting this tournament when and how.
One of the greatest elements of World Cup football is the emergence of new heroes on the pitch, with little known names acquiring global familiarity overnight. The biggest stars are often those slowly climbing the golden boot chart but it is the palms of the net minders who have been scribing their names into history with some huge performances against the odds.
Phil Neville will forever remember Vanina Correra, the 35-year-old Argentinian keeper who seemed destined to dash English dreams with her scintillating display in their second group game. A penalty save amongst several other world class stops saw her earn player of the match. It later emerged that she had actually quit the game in 2012, given birth to twins, returned to football in 2017 and continues to work another day job in order to maintain her family’s livelihood. Incredible.
Chile and PSG’s Christiane Endler followed quickly in her footsteps, earning another GK POTM for her side with successive saves to limit the USA to three goals only. Sydney Schneider, 19 years old and still a university student, is another keeper who has etched her name onto the star player list with her native Jamaica.
Off Field Culture Shock
While this tournament is unprecedented in terms of the levels of dedicated resources, fanbase and coverage, the knock-on effects are the stories that are trickling through of fraught conditions regarding federation cooperation and support.
Argentina went without any game for almost one thousand days in recent years when their federation refused to support the women’s team after lacklustre performances in the 2007 and 2011 World Cups. Chile has experienced similar treatment from their governing body. As have Nigeria who, despite winning nine of the past eleven African Cup of Nations, has struggled year after year to secure solid backing.
The very existence of these teams in this tournament, with this much coverage, will generate justification for the attention they seek in their home country.
This is only week one. Three more weeks to come.
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