World Cup: Why Asia’s women succeed where its men have failed – Sydney Morning Herald

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Here’s the Matildas CV for their time in Asia: one Asian Cup; quarter-finals at both World Cups; friendlies against top sides the US, Japan and France; best young player in the world (Caitlin Foord, 2011 World Cup); coach poached (though later sacked) by the world No.1, the US. The Matildas are unlikely to be happy with a quarter-final exit at Canada 2015. In AFL parlance, the premiership window is open.

Then there is Japan: beaming world champions 2011; Olympic runners-up 2012; under-17 world champions 2014; Homare Sawa unseating Brazil’s Marta as player of the year for 2011.

Japan, winners of the 2011 World Cup, will defend their title in Canada next year.

Japan, winners of the 2011 World Cup, will defend their title in Canada next year.

North Korea had made four consecutive World Cups before being banned from 2015 for doping. China, the 1999 World Cup runners-up, are back in 2015; joining them are South Korea, after a 12-year absence and, for the first time, Thailand. Four of Asia’s five will have genuine hopes of progressing past the group stage next year.

Yet, at Brazil 2014, Asia and Oceania are unrepresented in the round of 16.

Why has Asian women’s football succeeded where men’s has not?

Well, the size of the women’s football world is smaller. FIFA ranks 207 men’s teams and 124 active women’s teams.

China and Chinese Taipei were leaders among the early pioneers of the women’s game – along with northern Europe and the US. Other Asian countries became motivated to compete in what is a much younger competition than the men’s.

Asian Football Confederation vice-president Moya Dodd says: ”West Asia will in future close the gap. For example, Jordan has invested in top coaches over the last few years, and recently was the first west Asian team to play in the finals of the Women’s Asian Cup. The hijab rule change is very important [FIFA has lifted its headscarf ban], but the effects will take time.

”I’m very proud of how our women’s teams have improved and performed on the world stage. I’m looking forward to Canada 2015 because I know our teams can beat top-10 countries outside Asia. In the last 12 months, Australia has beaten France and Brazil, and Japan has beaten Sweden.”

There is much in common between the world’s best women’s teams and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development list of countries ranked by GDP per capita. Economic opportunity might account for greater investment in the women’s game and for women simply being freer to play sport. Japan and Australia feature highly on the OECD list, too.

”There are many, many parts of the world where women and girls hardly participate in sport due to cultural and economic barriers,” Dodd says. ”It is all too common for sons to be fed, educated, and given leisure time in preference to their sisters.

“I recently heard of one girl footballer who dropped out of her team because she was sold by her family to a neighbouring country in order to pay for her brother’s education. Sadly, it wasn’t even considered unusual, except for the fact that she was in a football team to begin with.”

The draw for the 2015 Women’s World Cup is in December. While teams from the other confederations are not yet confirmed, whoever their opponents Asia’s representatives will not be roadkill.


14 comments so far

  • The Socceroos are too soft to compete on the world stage.

    Commenter
    xoox
    Location
    Date and time
    June 27, 2014, 3:59PM
    • The Socceroos need some bite in their games. Might get them through in the round of 16. It worked for Uruguay.

      Commenter
      justkidding
      Location
      Date and time
      June 27, 2014, 4:14PM
      • It wouldn’t have to do with the Socceroos being outclassed in their matches by culturally better teams, while the Anglo-Saxon Matildas are bigger and stronger than their Asian opponents perchance, would it?

        Commenter
        Spike
        Location
        Date and time
        June 27, 2014, 4:28PM
        • Japan won the 2011 World Cup beating Germany, Sweden and the USA. Hardly small opposition there!

          Commenter
          Agent Smith
          Location
          Date and time
          June 28, 2014, 10:25AM
      • I reckon the Australian Women’s soccer team get more media coverage than they deserve. Sorry I meant the men’s; its just hard to tell most of the time – except one team is much better than the other.

        Commenter
        wear the fox hat
        Location
        Date and time
        June 27, 2014, 4:29PM
        • 16 teams leave by the weekend one of them is Australia along with the big names Spain England Portugal Italy, no big deal it’s a great effort to get to the World Cup another story to get to the knock out stage.

          Commenter
          Amro
          Location
          Date and time
          June 27, 2014, 5:31PM
          • Please refrain from referring to AFL in an article about the Australian women’s football team, it lowers the standard of an otherwise well – written piece.

            Commenter
            GuntherKater
            Location
            3011
            Date and time
            June 27, 2014, 7:42PM
            • Totally agree. Mentioning aussie rules in an article about soccer – one is professional and hard the other corrupt and soft. Wouldn’t want ‘eggball’ to be compared with softball.

              Commenter
              soccer numpty
              Location
              Date and time
              June 28, 2014, 10:22AM
          • The women have succeeded partly because of skill and lack of pretension. The Socceroos pretend they are near the top, which they clearly are not.

            Commenter
            TareeDawg
            Location
            Date and time
            June 27, 2014, 9:35PM
            • The article ends up arguing against itself. The women’s game generally doesn’t do so well in places that can’t afford to subsidise it or are too culturally backward to make a go of equality of the sexes. So, shouldn’t we be cheering when Asian teams drop in the rankings, as other places become more enlightened?

              Commenter
              Bob
              Location
              P
              Date and time
              June 27, 2014, 10:26PM

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