The 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup is underway, and this year the event is close to home. Canada is the host country and several games are being played just north of the border in Vancouver, B.C. including the final on July 5. The first two games were on Monday, June 8, and I drove up to watch Cameroon play Ecuador and Switzerland take on Japan.
The pageantry and celebrations within the stadium were just as big as they were for the Men’s World Cup when I went in 2010. Everyone inside the stadium was bursting with excitement to see their national teams play, and they showed it with costumes. There was an Ecuadorian man handing out small flags to everyone he could reach, a Swiss fan who had painted his entire face and body red and white, and a Japanese man who was dressed up as a giant watermelon. Fanatics like these made up for the fact that the stadium was barely over half-full.
Unfortunately, it must be noted that despite the enthusiasm of the fans, the level of play was noticeably lower than what one would see at the highest levels of the men’s game. There are reasons for this – women’s soccer doesn’t get as much funding or attention as men’s around the world, and there are the strength and size disparities between the sexes as well.
Even so, the crowd roared like a jet engine for every goal, and the celebrations of the players were a joy to watch. The Cameroonians in particular did fun dances for each of the six goals they put past Ecuador.
However, just because it was enjoyable doesn’t necessarily mean that it was worth it. There are definite costs to attending these matches. The first is the high price of tickets. Group stage tickets cost anywhere from 15 to 65 Canadian dollars ($12.18 – $52.76), and the prices only increase once the knockout stage rolls in. Tickets for the final cost at least 60 Canadian dollars.
The drive is another negative. I had to wait for over an hour at the less busy of the two I-5 border crossings, and this is on top of a three-hour drive. Parking near the stadium isn’t easy either, and the price of food and drink within the stadium is unpleasantly high.
Despite all these negatives, I had a wonderful time, and I am going back again for the second-round match on June 23. The Women’s World Cup is a must-go event for big sports fans but it is not worth the price and drive time for those who are more ambivalent. Vancouver will host more games on June 21, June 23, June 27 and July 5.