The fifth FIFA Women's World Cup in China is being broadcast to a record number of viewers around the world. VOA's Jim Stevenson has more on the growth of the quadrennial football (soccer) event since it began in 1991.
China hosted the inaugural Women's World Cup 16 years ago. At that time, 12 nations competed, with the United States winning the title. But football fans following that team and the others often had to wait about a day for game results to appear in newspapers.
This year, the 16-nation tournament is being viewed live on television by millions of people around the world. At the same time, Australian coach Tom Sermanni says the players are very aware that their efforts are being noticed.
"We have been getting a lot of the feedback in the press, telling us the kind of fan publicity we have had back there [in Australia] and how positive it has been," he said. "And I think that is a great thing about our team. They are very conscious of about how they do things, and about their image and about women's football. And I think they are great ambassadors for women's football in Australia."
The 32 matches of the Women's World Cup are available in 200 territories on six continents. Broadcasts have increased 25 percent from just four years ago.
In Germany, viewership for the opening game in Shanghai (Sep. 10, Germany 11-0 over Argentina) equaled what would be expected for a major European Champions League men's match (about 20 percent market share, or 2.2 million viewers). Japan (20 percent) and Sweden (57 percent) also posted very high market share numbers.
When asked about tournament coverage in his nation, North Korean coach Kim Kwang-Min said he expects it will attract more fans for his team's final first-round game Tuesday against Sweden in the northern Chinese city of Tianjin.
"We are sure more fans from the DPRK [North Korea] will come to join and to cheer the team up in the valley of Tianjin," Kim Kwang-Min
FIFA is also offering free live broadcasts on the internet of all matches in selected territories. Free two-minute highlight videos are also available across the world shortly after the final whistle of each match. The Women's World Cup concludes September 30 in Shanghai.