Jul 10, 2019

The future of women's soccer after another World Cup win for the U.S.

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Photos: U.S. Soccer; Logos: SportsLogos.Net; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The U.S. women's national team will bask in a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan today — and then it's back to work.

The state of play ... In the wake of the Americans' fourth World Cup title, the hard part remains: boosting interest in the National Women's Soccer League, where all 23 members of the USWNT spend their springs and summers.

  • Good news: The nine-team NWSL just announced an agreement with ESPN to televise 14 games during the season's second half, and Budweiser signed on as a sponsor. Wider reach plus more money equals better product.
  • Bad news: Capitalizing on the World Cup frenzy is easier said than done, especially when attendance is already somewhat of a struggle. Portland averages 18,000 fans and Utah averages 11,000, but the other seven teams average fewer than 5,000.

The big picture: While the NWSL still boasts the majority of the world's top players (including reigning world player of the year Marta), Europe is beginning to close the gap.

  • Wealthy clubs like Olympique Lyon (France) and Barcelona (Spain) have bolstered their investments in women's soccer, leading to a record seven European countries — loaded with players developed by those clubs — reaching this year's World Cup quarterfinals.
  • If the NWSL can't keep up, the balance of power in the sport could ultimately shift — both at the club level (Americans could be lured overseas by bigger paychecks) and internationally (continued investment could threaten the USWNT's dominance).

The bottom line: The seven-year-old NWSL has already survived longer than its predecessors, the Women's United Soccer Association (2001-03) and Women's Professional Soccer (2007-12), so they're clearly doing plenty of things right.

  • But now, with the future of U.S. women's soccer at stake amid the rise of European challengers, the league must seize the moment like never before.

P.S. … The USWNT will return to action on August 3 at the Rose Bowl in a friendly against Ireland.

Go deeper: U.S. soccer bill would block 2026 World Cup funds until equal pay occurs

Go deeper

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

More than 62,300 U.S. health care workers have tested positive for the novel coronavirus and at least 291 have died from the virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Tuesday. COVID-19 had infected about 9,300 health professionals when the CDC gave its last update on April 17.

By the numbers: More than 98,900 people have died from COVID-19 and over 1.6 million have tested positive in the U.S. Over 384,900 Americans have recovered and more than 14.9 million tests have been conducted.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 11:00 p.m. ET: 5,589,626 — Total deaths: 350,453 — Total recoveries — 2,286,956Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 11:00 p.m. ET: 1,680,913 — Total deaths: 98,913 — Total recoveries: 384,902 — Total tested: 14,907,041Map.
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  4. Congress: House Republicans to sue Nancy Pelosi in effort to block proxy voting.
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  6. Tech: Twitter fact-checks Trump's tweets about mail-in voting for first timeGoogle to open offices July 6 for 10% of workers.
  7. Public health: Coronavirus antibodies could give "short-term immunity," CDC says, but more data is neededCDC releases guidance on when you can be around others after contracting the virus.
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Updated 46 mins ago - Politics & Policy

World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

There are no COVID-19 patients in hospital in New Zealand, which reported just 21 active cases after days of zero new infections. A top NZ health official said Tuesday he's "confident we have broken the chain of domestic transmission."

By the numbers: Almost 5.5 million people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus as of Tuesday, and more than 2.2 million have recovered. The U.S. has reported the most cases in the world (over 1.6 million from 14.9 million tests).