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Sunday 25 August 2019

'It's a sea change', says Jacqui as TV focus on women's World Cup

RTE presenter Jacqui Hurley, Ireland international Stephanie Roche and young supporters at the launch of RTE and TG4’s coverage of the Fifa Women’s World Cup. Photo: Donall Farmer
RTE presenter Jacqui Hurley, Ireland international Stephanie Roche and young supporters at the launch of RTE and TG4’s coverage of the Fifa Women’s World Cup. Photo: Donall Farmer

Sports presenter Jacqui Hurley, who will spearhead the coverage of this summer's Fifa Women's World Cup, has hailed the move toward more media exposure for female-led sporting events as a "sea change".

RTE and TG4 will show all 52 matches in the tournament, which kicks off in France on Friday.

In what will be a televisual first for the Irish broadcasters, they will feature every single game in a bid to raise the profile of women's soccer in the mainstream media.

Kicking off its coverage with the opening ceremony and then the match between hosts France and South Korea, RTE will also have a dedicated panel of expert commentators giving their verdict on the games.

The coverage is part of the station's commitment to the 20x20 initiative, which was created by Along Came a Spider and is backed by the Federation of Irish Sport.

The campaign hopes to increase media coverage of female-led sporting events by 20pc as well as producing a similar increase in the attendance at women's games.

"I'm hugely excited about that as I think women in sport has taken an incredible leap," said Hurley.

"It does feel like the sea change has really started. The wave is definitely there and the positivity that is there at the moment is something that we are not just capitalising on, it's something that we are positively driving forward."

Engage

RTE group head of sport Declan McBennett said it was a game-changer for women's soccer.

"It's a great opportunity for the Irish public to engage with women's soccer in a way they haven't done before," he said.

"We are very much looking forward to the big kick-off this weekend and to showcasing the very best of women's sport in one of the year's biggest global events."

Ireland soccer star Stephanie Roche will be among those commentating on the games for RTE. But she admits it may be an uphill battle drumming up support for the tournament.

"I think there's going to be so many critics coming out and saying, it's not as good as men's football, it's this, that and the other," she told the Herald.

"Even now at this stage, I get people who are good friends of mine saying: 'It's not good' and it's hard for me.

"There's a lot of men out there who don't want to watch it and you're not going to change their opinion and I think it's a generational thing.

"I think they've heard that their whole lives so hopefully this might be one step toward changing people's opinion.

"I think it's brilliant that they're showing it and I think the 20X20 campaign has a lot to thank for it.

"The more people that can see it on TV, the more it's going to become the norm and as a female player, that's something you want to see."

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