We are missing the Women’s World Cup already, less than 24 hours after Spain beat England to win the trophy for the first time.
The victory was put in perspective though within minutes of the presentation when goalscorer Olga Carmona was told that her Father had passed away back in Spain only moments after her 29th minute strike that proved to be the difference between the teams.
A sad postscript to a wonderful celebration of sport at the highest level.
This has been a tournament that was obviously special for Ireland, qualifying for the first time but which has also, despite the handicap of being played on the other side of the world, lit up the sport in a way that could only have been dreamed of.
It was watched by more people around the world than any women’s sporting event in history.
The England vs Australia semi final was watched by 11 million viewers in England and by a similar in the host country, setting a new record for the most watched TV programme in history.
At times it achieved 90 per cent market share of all TV being watched in the country at the time.
The $110 million awarded in prize money was three times the figure it was in France though only one quarter of what was paid out to countries competing at the Men’s World Cup in Qatar.
The acceleration though is likely to increase again with FIFA setting the ambition of equal prize money for the Men’s and Women’s cycles of 2026 and 2027.
Revenue from the tournament through ticketing, sponsorship and broadcast rights came to an estimated $570 million, second only to the Men’s World Cup according to FIFA President Gianni Infantino, though the Olympic Games may have slipped his mind.
If that figure is attained at the Rugby World Cup next month, World Rugby will be celebrating.
There are still significant gaps though with equal pay for international football players still only an aspiration in half of the countries that made it to the Finals.
There are cultural gaps in equality that sport can only be part of the solution for, but what a powerful part.
This tournament has proven the power of football to blast though outdated notions of the quality of the game, the appeal to fans in stadia and on screen.
If you cannot be excited for the 2025 European Championships or the 2027 World Cup then you clearly have either not been watching or have no interest in sport.
The former will take place in Switzerland, the latter has yet to be determined with countries having until December of this year to bid with the winner to be announced next May.
Australia has pledged a $200 million investment for the Women’s game to create a lasting legacy. All over the world similar redrawing of football investment priorities are taking place.
That will be the same in Ireland where the match between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland at the Aviva Stadium will be a litmus test of how the popularity of the team can translate into an attendance worthy of what they achieved in qualifying for a first ever major tournament. Northern Ireland did the same at last year’s Euro’s and are building out their reach to young fans and players.
The Women’s Premier Division in the SSE Airtricitv League restarted on Saturday with 15 goals across the five games played. We have not yet seen the attendance numbers at the matches but can only hope with the bunting still flying high for Abbie Larkin around Ringsend that those idolising the players with flags and social media posts will have gone to the games with their daughters and sons to keep the wagon rolling.
A theme running through much of the promotion of this World Cup is that it is only the beginning. We firmly believe that to be the case and as part of our annual Women in Sport Conference, in partnership with Lidl, one of the questions we will pose is how that can be made real.