Mighty Manchester City takes on upstarts West Ham United at venerable Wembley Stadium in Saturday’s Women’s FA Cup Final at 12:30 Eastern. While no TV network here in America will air the marquee matchup, it will thankfully be streamed on the FA Super Women’s League Facebook page.
Next month, the Women’s World Cup in France will bring the international women’s game to a growing global audience. But it’s a different story domestically. The National Women’s Soccer League has no TV broadcast home, instead their matches are available to stream via Yahoo Sports. And there’s no TV broadcast home here for the UEFA Women’s Champions League final coming up on May 18th between Lyon and Barcelona.
It’s a slightly better situation in England, where BT Sport broadcasts some Women’s Super League matches and over-the-air BBC One will broadcast the Women’s FA Cup final. The English Women’s Super League features 11 clubs all affiliated with, and supported by, men’s clubs in either the Premier League or English Football League. It shares a closed loop promotion/relegation relationship with a 2nd division called the FA Women’s Championship.
Manchester City will be looking to capture a domestic club double after beating Arsenal for the Women’s League Cup back in February. Arsenal denied City a chance at a domestic treble by nabbing the league title. Man City’s squad is stacked with players who’ll likely be representing England at the Women’s World Cup next month including keeper Karen Bardsley, sensational striker Nikita Parris, and stalwart Steph Houghton. Meanwhile, West Ham United played in the third tier last year and this is the women’s club first year playing professionally full time.
Despite the mismatch on paper, the FA expects a record attendance of 50,000-plus at Wembley. Some West Ham supporters have vowed to leave the men’s home game against Southampton early in order to make the crosstown trek in time.
It all goes to show how the women’s game can flourish with the proper infrastructure and support. Here, the USWNT has had to fight tooth and nail just to play on grass. And they’ve filed suit against US Soccer for equal pay. Meanwhile, the NWSL struggles in relative obscurity despite boasting some terrific players. In many ways the women’s domestic club game seems healthier in Europe than it does here.
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