Written by Staff Writer by By Lauren Graber, CNN
A month ahead of the FIFA World Cup, which takes place in Russia from June 14 to July 15, some 7,000 journalists are already in Moscow, gathering stories for the tournament’s pages. It’s been a rough stretch for the official World Cup press accreditation holders, with several members of the media barred from the press conference for the opening ceremony, which saw the appearance of Spanish stars Pique and Carioca.
This year’s tournament is pushing women into wider positions of influence and have gone far beyond the wall of man-dom which always loomed over the great events.
More than 1,200 journalists, women and men, will attend the event from around the world to write stories for the thousands of publications that will cover it. But it’s not just media, it’s women who have also stepped up, in their own right.
‘Girls of FIFA’
At the FIFA Women’s World Cup, women will take up positions in key places such as the opening ceremony, coaching staff, business sessions and match operations, even directing the key match, on June 27 against England.
Covering the games for CNN International, foreign journalists run on energy and energy drinks, lighting up their faces and giving off massive eye glares as they hurry from one coke to the next. The pace is relentless. On Thursday, we were whisked around a camp on a muddy field for a kickaround — how many male journalists can say they got so much adrenaline pumping?
During our time at the Russian camp, we met powerful women as diverse as Maria Komidova, a veteran soccer reporter covering the women’s championship from her apartment in Kyiv, Ukraine; Mariana Garcia, a well-known NBC Sports reporter based in Mexico; Ann Mallon, who will serve as a spectator, and Julia Jardin, a reporter who is working from Barcelona as a regular member of the media.
At first, Jardin seemed only to be following an NFL-type role. In fact, the budding role of women in soccer is the subject of a new book titled “Girls of FIFA,” which tells the story of nine women involved in the grassroots game, from six years old to retirement age, who are now making their mark in international soccer.
Having discovered her passion for soccer at age 11, Jardin has grown to become an expert in the world of soccer.
“There is a very real possibility that I will not have covered the rest of my life without going to soccer training for hours,” says Jardin. “For me, the most important thing for girls is to continue training and keep learning. What I love is the passion that I get from football and playing soccer.”
This realization seems to be growing, with international women in the sport now vying for the role of head coach, sporting stars like Neymar and Alessandra Ambrosio that many sport fans are used to seeing, and even a glass ceiling of sorts being broken.
“Even for girls that don’t like soccer, I think they understand that if girls play, the things that they have growing up that helped them, like the feeling of teamwork, chemistry, memory or emotion, make a greater difference in their lives,” Jardin says.
And getting to those girls and helping them along the way, are truly inspirational women.