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We’re back after the Fourth of July holiday and still celebrating the red, white and blue, mostly because of the U.S. Women’s National Team’s (USWNT) second straight World Cup victory over the Netherlands on Sunday.
The FIFA Women’s World Cup has been a huge news item since the tournament began on June 7, and even after the final match people are still talking about the spectacle of the USWNT. This week, we’re taking a look at the media coverage and social media trends from the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Equality on the Pitch
Arguably, the biggest story of the 2019 Women’s World Cup wasn’t even about soccer. The coverage about equal pay is at the forefront of the conversation for the future of FIFA, women’s soccer and the USWNT.
Of course, the U.S. women wanted to win the World Cup, but they also wanted to prove to U.S. Soccer, who the USWNT has already filed a discrimination lawsuit against, and FIFA that female soccer players should be paid the same, if not more than U.S. male players (who failed to qualify for the 2018 Men’s World Cup whose best World Cup performance was third place in 1930). It’s a complicated issue due to each league’s various collective bargaining agreements, but a women’s team that wins on the world stage still earns less than a men’s team with a losing record.
When the president of FIFA presented the World Cup trophy to the USWNT on Sunday, the crowds chanted, “Equal pay! Equal pay!.” This showed that this issue is on soccer fans’ minds and restarted the conversation about equal pay in soccer and elsewhere.
It’s interesting to see a major, international event take the focus of the media coverage towards important issues rather than reporting primarily on the scores and games.
“I believe that women will conquer more than just the soccer field”
Almost immediately following the final whistle in the World Cup final, Nike released an ad across its social media channels that featured a riff on the soccer chant “I believe that we will win.” The narrator of the ad speaks to the team’s quest for equal pay and inspiring the next generation of soccer players.
It’s a smart move by Nike to have a chill-inducing ad ready to go while U.S. soccer fans are riding the high of a World Cup win. When it comes to planning for big events, be sure you have a social plan that’s ready to roll out in a pinch.
Mad Dash for Merch
One argument on why professional female athletes earn less than their male counterparts is that their games and merchandise don’t generate as much revenue. However, last week Nike announced the USWNT jersey is its best-selling soccer jersey of all time. Some stores are even having trouble keeping U.S. co-caption Megan Rapinoe jerseys in stock, even when receiving shipments every three days.
The lesson here is that everyone wants a piece of the action, especially when it comes to merchandise – so know your audience and understand what they want to see.
And That’s the Tea
Even if you’re not a soccer fan, it’s almost impossible to avoid the fanfare around the USWNT. Throughout the tournament and especially after the team’s World Cup win, social media was inundated with content from the players, brands and creative users.
The memes that came out of the tournament included Megan Rapinoe’s triumphant, statue-like pose and Alex Morgan pretending to sip tea while celebrating a goal. ESPN photoshopped Rapinoe onto a bald eagle while holding an American flag, which is perhaps a nod to her Twitter tussle with President Trump and critics calling her “un-American.”
One mood. 🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/sL5BE1AfDv
— ESPN (@espn) July 7, 2019
Following their win, the players took to Instagram stories to chronicle their celebrations in the locker room and return to the U.S., giving fans a behind-the-scenes look at the massive party taking place. If you’re looking for inspiration on viral social media moments, look no further than the USWNT.