‘Winning is the only thing that matters’

Down and out: England finished in fourth place after losing to Sweden on Saturday.

Is Phil Neville right? The coach of the England women’s team said his team did not deserve a heroes’ welcome because they had failed. But they have been part of a triumph for women’s sport…

The Netherlands put up a good fight in yesterday’s final of the Women’s World Cup. But, in the end, a penalty from US Captain Megan Rapinoe broke through their goalkeeper’s defence. Less than 10 minutes later, striker Rose Lavelle sealed their place as World Cup champions for the second tournament in a row.

Elsewhere, there were signs that women’s football has finally had its watershed moment. TV ratings records were set in countries including France, Brazil and Italy.

In England, where women’s football was banned until 1971, the Lionesses have become household names. More than half of England’s televisions were tuned in to their semi-final match.

And yet, coach Phil Neville said his team did not deserve a heroes’ welcome when they returned to Britain yesterday.

“They don’t want it; they’ve not earned it,” Neville said. “A bus-top tour or a trip to Downing Street would be celebrating failure [...]. You’ve got to win.”

He went on: “The texts coming through of ‘you’ve inspired the nation’ have been lovely, but annoying because we wanted to win. I’ve been brought up where winning is the only thing that matters.”

It’s the taking part?

Neville is right, say some. No one should not get a trophy just for taking part — that is no way to encourage healthy competition. The USA won because they were the best team, but they also had the strongest attitude. Losing was simply not an option for them. Call it arrogant or ambitious, you cannot deny the results.

But is winning really the only thing that matters? The Lionesses have inspired countless girls (and boys!) to get involved in women’s football, either as players or fans. They are not just amazing athletes — after years of being sidelined, they are now feminist role models. They thoroughly deserve to be celebrated for that.

You Decide

  1. Is winning all that matters?

Activities

  1. Complete the following sentence with your own thoughts: “It’s not the winning, it’s…”

Some People Say...

“You can’t win unless you learn how to lose.”

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, US basketball player

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
It is the fourth time that the USA has won the Women’s World Cup, and the first time that they have won two tournaments back-to-back. Megan Rapinoe won the Golden Boot for scoring most number of goals.
What do we not know?
Whether the excitement around women’s football will continue now that the tournament is over. There have been “watershed moments” (significant turning points) before, only for interest to wane in the years that followed.

Word Watch

Megan Rapinoe
The pink-haired, 34-year-old captain also helped lead the US women’s team to World Cup victory in 2015. She is openly gay and has campaigned for LGBT rights.
Banned
The Football Association banned the women’s game in 1921, saying it was “quite unsuitable for females and ought not to be encouraged”.
Phil Neville
A former England, Everton and Manchester United footballer. He was made coach of the England women’s team in January, last year.
Downing Street
Number 10 Downing Street is the home of the UK’s prime minister.

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