Women’s football: Girl power summer

A 50-year ban and a novel whose heroine is a bit like Spain's captain
Incorporating photo by Andy Macfarlane | Unsplash

Welcome to This Week, Those Books, your rundown on books new and old that resonate with the week’s big news story.

The few minutes you take to read this newsletter will make you smarter, faster…guaranteed. This week’s deep dive into fiction and non-fiction books is about the FIFA Women’s World Cup, which wraps up on Sunday, August 20. The suggested books – complete with summary (but no plot-spoilers), quotes and a visceral response – could point you to your next read or sort out your next watercooler convo and/or supper small talk. In short, they are GTK (good to know).

(Links to previous posts are at the end as well as on the website.)

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The Women’s World Cup is winding up looking like a winner. The tournament has been dramatic, racking up record high viewing figures in co-host nation Australia.

No matter which team triumphs, a new champion will be crowned because the US, Germany, Japan and Norway – the only countries to have won the World Cup – are already out.

But more to the point, the once quiet sport of women’s football is finding that it can roar – and that the world is roaring right back.

Some say it’s been a girl power summer. Greta Gerwig’s Barbie oozes box office oomph as the biggest movie of the year so far and Taylor Swift’s Eras tour has been a blowout success.

Alongside the Women’s World Cup, female football is raking in new deals with the US National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) adding new teams in Utah and San Jose next year and former Meta exec Sheryl Sandberg investing $125 million in the latter. And for the second year running, the NWSL’s championship match will air in primetime on CBS in November.

That said, the world of women’s sport can be a hard blue place and not all pink and frilly. Top female footballers can still only dream of the riches earned by even middle-ranking male counterparts. Australia’s Sam Kerr, the world’s best-paid woman player, is said to earn £417,000 at Chelsea. There has been talk of the first £1 million transfer in British women’s football by 2025. For the men’s game it happened in 1979!

Picks for this week include two easy reads – a history of women’s football and a young adult novel about an Argentine girl who has something in common with Spain’s current captain of the women’s team.

Dear Reader, this week reminds me of those books:

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