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- The 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup kicks off Friday, as hosts France (7-2) take on the Taegeuk Ladies from the Republic of Korea. The weekend will feature three games each, with other fancied teams Germany (6-1) facing China on Saturday, and England (7-1) against Scotland on Sunday.
- The defending champion United States Women’s National Team don’t play until Tuesday, when they’ll meet underdog-of-underdogs Thailand. The USWNT are considered slight favorites (5-4) to add to their three World Cup titles, in what may be the most wide open tournament in its history.
- The Americans’ biggest challenge, at least in group play, is likely to be Sweden, a team the USWNT knows all too well. Thailand, and first-timers Chile, will be happy to be leave with a win against anybody. The structure of the tournament, however, means that France and the United States are likely to meet in the quarterfinals.
- Two other teams, Jamaica and South Africa, join Scotland and Chile as World Cup debutants. Nowhere else on earth, however, is women’s soccer more popular than in the United States. An increasing number of games this year will be shown on over-the-air “Big Fox.” There is also evidence that, in both international viewership and attendance, the women’s game is catching up to the men’s.
- One face you won’t see in this year’s tournament is that of Ada Hegerberg, winner of last year’s inaugural Women’s Ballon d’Or, and arguably the sport’s best player. Two years ago, the Olympique Lyonnais superstar told the Norwegian Football Federation she would not play for the national team until she saw more tangible progress toward equal working conditions, and more support for the women’s program.