FIFA World Cup tournament bracket

2015-06-30-1435687452-3631518-SydneyLerouxLegs.jpgEveryone benefits from the growth of women's global soccer - EVERYONE! So FIFA let's not make it more challenging than it has to be.

[About Fred Astaire] "Sure he was great, but don't forget Ginger Rogers did everything he did backwards... and in high heels." - Bob Thaves in 1982.

[About Women's World Cup] "Sure, FIFA's Men's World Cup is great, but don't forget the women are playing the same game on fields of hot coals (artificial turf), getting paid A LOT less, in a manipulated tournament bracket, with their fans waiting 2-plus hours to buy merchandise, all while staying in the same hotel with opposing teams." - Jennie Matt in 2015

FIFA's 2015 Women's World Cup enters its final stages this week with only four teams remaining. There are many positive results from the tournament so far, in the form of viewers, tickets sales, and for the first time in Women's World Cup history, the televised broadcasting of every single game. According to Bloomberg Business, "Women's soccer has achieved what most new shows have failed to deliver at Fox: a surge in viewers."

The Women's World Cup has been successful, yet FIFA's approach to managing the women's game leaves a lot of room for improvement. In most cases, the best approach for FIFA would be to simply run the Women's World Cup like they run the Men's World Cup.

  1. Seed the four highest ranking teams to meet as late as possible in the tournament.
  2. Play on natural grass, not artificial turf.
  3. Stop being surprised about (and start being prepared for) merchandising opportunities, attendance, viewership and growing interest in the women's game.
  4. Put opposing teams in different hotels.

Bracket Manipulation
Any sports fan understands the idea of a playoff bracket where teams are "seeded" according to their performance in the regular season or their ranking. Imagine the outcry if:

  1. Germany and Argentina met in the quarterfinals of FIFA's Men's World Cup?
  2. Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots met in an early round of the NFL playoffs?
  3. Duke played Kentucky in the NCAA Elite 8 instead of the Final Four?

Sports tournaments are already optimized to sell tickets and draw viewers by making sure the best teams don't meet early in the tournament. This way we (the fans, the consumers, the people who are actually funding this entire ecosystem) can watch the best teams play the most. Why did FIFA determine that the Women's World Cup is different and feel the need to place teams for the tournament not based on their world ranking, but on what they thought would sell more tickets and produce higher TV ratings? Yes, you heard it right; a global tournament which athletes dedicate their lives to play in was manipulated by bureaucrats with the results being that I, as a fan, consumer, and supporter, don't get to see France play anymore. So sorry to see you go France; when your game is on, it is a thing of true beauty.

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