Megan Rapinoe considers Sunday to be the final insult.
Just a few hours after the United States and the Netherlands meet in the Women’s World Cup final in France, Brazil or Peru will celebrate winning the Copa America, South America’s men’s championship. And then at night, the United States or Mexico will win the CONCACAF Gold Cup, the men’s title of North and Central America and the Caribbean.
A TV triple of championships for some is yet another slight for others.
“It’s ridiculous, and disappointing, to be honest,” said Rapinoe, the star American midfielder.
FIFA said playing the three finals on the same day would boost attention for all.
“The scheduling of the different events has gone through a comprehensive consultancy process, which has involved all key stakeholders and taken into account different aspects of the women’s and men’s international match calendars,” the governing body said in a statement. “It is a rare and exciting occurrence.”
CONCACAF President Victor Montagliani told The New York Times, however, the decision to schedule the Gold Cup final for Sunday was not deliberate and was due to a “clerical error.”
“It’s terrible,” said former American midfielder Aly Wagner, now Fox’s lead World Cup match analyst. “It is so disturbing to me that the Women’s World Cup does not have its own day to stand on its own and have a final to highlight these tremendous athletes and their work and their accomplishment. They wouldn’t dream of doing it to the men. Why would they do it to the women?”
CONCACAF did not announce the expansion of the Gold Cup from 12 teams to 16 until Feb. 26, 2018, then said last Sept. 27 that the final would be held at Chicago’s Soldier Field on July 7. South America’s governing body made the Copa America dates known since at least early 2018 and said last Dec. 18 the final would kick off at 4 p.m. EDT.
The Women’s World Cup final will start at 11 a.m. EDT on Fox, followed by the Copa America final at 4 p.m. EDT on ESPN+ and the CONCACAF final at 9:15 p.m. EDT on FS1. Telemundo, a sister network of NBC, has Women’s World Cup and Copa America Spanish-language U.S. rights, while Univision has the Gold Cup.
“I really am a believer in the rising tide lifts all ships,” said David Neal, executive producer of Fox’s World Cup coverage. “Because of the timing of them, it’s probably not going to hurt anybody.”
Advertisers don’t seem to think the three finals will cannibalize each other.
“It doesn’t alter in any way shape or form what we plan to do. I’m not sure whether it’ll splinter viewership or not,” said Chris Curtin, chief brand and innovation marketing officer of Visa, one of six FIFA partners.
Advertisers focus on their product’s marketing and activation and pretty much ignore the other tournaments.
“The priority for Coca-Cola is the FIFA Women’s World Cup and we’re going to do everything we can to bring a lot of attention, a lot people in front of TVs, to watch the game, to watch the final,” said Ricardo Fort, head of global sponsorships at The Coca-Cola Co., another FIFA partner. “Too bad for the other finals. I’m pretty sure the Women’s World Cup final is going to be a big global event again.”
For the U.S. women’s team, vocal advocates for gender equity, the three finals are just another in a long parade of putdowns that include lower prize money and arrangements inferior to those provided for the men.
“I don’t really understand why there’s such a resistance against going all-in on women,” Rapinoe said. “I think it’s pretty clear women in sport have not been treated with the same care and financing and all of that that men’s sports has.”