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Women’s football gaining ground?

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Women's World CupTimes may be dark for FIFA, but the women’s game is stronger than ever.

Amid all the recent FIFA furore, the biggest ever Women’s World Cup has been getting under way.

Hosted by Canada, this seventh edition of the tournament features 24 teams – like the men’s event – for the first time, with debut appearances from Cameroon, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Ivory Coast, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland and Thailand.

At the time of writing (6 June), up to a billion TV viewers were expected to tune in, with matches due to be broadcast in 187 territories.

And for the first time, the BBC will broadcast every match.

The growing visibility of the women’s game has also been reflected in the video games world, with the news that the next edition of the popular FIFA game will feature women’s teams for the first time.

FIFA 16 will include 12 national women’s teams; the official press release said this addition has been “one of the most requested features in recent years”.

There is, of course, still plenty of progress to be made before the women’s game even begins to approach the global status of the men’s – even leaving salary levels aside.

Mary Hamilton has pointed out that while the men’s World Cup is always played on grass, the women’s tournament will use artificial turf – which could put them at greater risk of injury, and longer recovery times.

Female players will still only constitute less than 2 per cent of all players featured in FIFA 16.

And the tirades of “misogynistic nonsense” which followed the announcement that female players would be included are sufficient proof of the vast distances yet to cover in this sector.

Still, overall this looks like a remarkably positive period for the women’s game – particularly when set against the backdrop of daily twists and turns in the unfolding FIFA corruption allegations scandal.

Sepp who? Let’s watch some great football!

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