The U.S. national team celebrates its 5-2 victory over Japan in the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup soccer final at BC Place Stadium in Vancouver, B.C. (Frank Fife/AFP/Getty Images)
Meanwhile, other changes have helped highlight just how far the sport still has to go. Video-game giant EA Sports said it will, for the first time ever, include women's national teams in its latest edition of one of the world's best-selling video-game franchises, FIFA 16. The change was announced after years of petitions in which signers said they wanted young girls "to be able see themselves in the games they love." Still, only a smattering will be included: 12 women's teams are expected, compared to the more than 600 men's teams (and more than 16,000 male players) in last year's edition, FIFA 15. The business of this year's Women's World Cup saw some big gains over the 2011 tourney. Fox aired 16 matches live with ads from more than 20 corporate sponsors, including Fiat and Nationwide Insurance, and brought in sponsorship revenue that was nearly three times as much as in 2011.
Tony DiCicco is a television analyst, who has no problem criticizing the current coach, Jill Ellis, during games. The ’99 team’s co-captain Julie Foudy is a soccer analyst for ESPN, as is her teammate from that squad, Kate Markgraf. Perhaps most notably, there’s Michelle Akers, the U.S. soccer legend who was not only a key member of the ’99 team, but also scored both goals in the 1991 Women’s World Cup final to lead the U.S. over Norway. Monday, she went on SiriusXM FC and laid it all out there. “What I was thinking about when Tony was talking about the team and how he would play — and he’s frustrated — he invested a lot of his heart and soul, blood sweat and tears, all of that, into that team. And so did I, so did lots of other people,” Akers said after Monday’s U.S. win over Colombia. “So, it’s not just about, hey, Jill said she’s going to do it this way and she’s not, or our team isn’t playing well. It’s about, that’s me out there. That’s my team. And so when we struggle, or when, in our opinion, the coach isn’t handling the personnel right… The lineup sucks. The subs are sketchy, we’re not all on the same page. That’s me out there. And I can feel it with Tony, too. He’s taking it personal, you know? That’s our baby out there, too.”