The World’s First Viral Soccer Moment

Rounding out my coverage of how our global sports world was significantly shaped by the First World War a century ago is this recent piece for The Athletic. Reporting on “How the Great War Made Soccer the World’s Most Popular Sport—and Led to Its First Viral moment,” I learned a lot more than I anticipated. As a sports specialist with a sub-specialty on the First World War (thanks to my work on the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Embassy France’s World War One Centennial project), I thought I knew the story’s key turning points. But as Jean Williams and Arnaud Waquet reminded me, there were many more.

Of particular interest to many is how the war era served as a golden age of women’s soccer, in Britain and elsewhere. Crowds of 10,000 paid to watch women play in 1917 and 1918, and a few years later, some 55,000 people crowded into Goodson Park to watch a women’s match. As Williams pointed out, makes you wonder why organizers of women’s professional soccer today don’t look to the ways that their predecessors shined 100 years ago in terms of getting the crowds out en masse with regularity...

Full pdf here.