Alex Morgan and Christine Sinclair cover EA Sports FIFA 16

With EA Sports release of FIFA 16, it resulted in an unprecedented milestone for the popular video game producer. Two different versions of the game featured women’s soccer superstars joining Lionel Messi on the cover. The version used for Xbox features Women’s World Cup champion Alex Morgan on the cover. Building on the momentum of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada, legendary Canadian team captain Christine Sinclair graces the cover of the game for PS4.

Of note, this is not the first time that EA Sports has featured women in its popular video games. Women’s ice hockey legends Angela Ruggiero and Hayley Wickenheiser were featured in an NHL video game themed release.

Although a decision had been made prior to the Women’s World Cup concerning Morgan, there had never been a formal announcement. As a side note, an advertisement in the official program for the WWC actually features Sinclair on the cover of an EA Sports game. Following the emotional victory by the US in the FIFA Women’s World Cup, there was an online petition looking to get the entire team on the cover.

Recognizing the growth of women’s soccer in the United States and Canada, along with the cultural impact that its stars are having on both sides of the border, EA has rightfully chosen to celebrate their impact by doing more than just a cover appearance. Adding to the magic is the fact that gamers have the option to utilize female soccer players in the game. Among the 12 different women’s national team that can be selected are Canada, England, Germany and the US.

An offline tournament plus online friendly matches comprise part of the experience. For fans looking to excel at a higher level of play, the game also offers the FIFA Trainer, a new feature that provides instruction.

EA Sports began experimenting with a prototype in 2012. In looking to ensure authenticity, from details as minor as hair animation, members from the US and Canadian teams visited EA’s studios in Vancouver, participating in motion capture. The highly anticipated release date for FIFA 16 is September 22.

World Cup heartbreak on home soil for Canada cannot overshadow positives

With the momentum of serving as host country for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, the Canadian national team had high hopes to defeat England and qualify for the semi-finals. Expectations were high among players, fans and media alike, as Canada appeared destined for greatness.

Instead, Canada suffered a 2-1 upset loss against England as Lucy Bronze added to her growing legend among English soccer fans with a goal in a second consecutive game. After defeating a highly favored Norwegian team in the Round of 16, England remained poised against the host country, with a capacity crowd in Vancouver hoping for more Canadian magic.

As a nation collectively felt misery after a visceral 2-1 loss, compounded by a tearful Christine Sinclair on her knees, devastated by the outcome, the reality was that the World Cup was a tournament filled with several upsets. In addition to Brazil and Norway experiencing losses, the reality is that Canada may have endured a loss to defending World Cup champion Japan in the semifinals. Of course, the consolation would have been the chance to compete in the third place game, maintaining Canadian interest in the event.

Despite the outcome, there were still so many positives to consider. Of note, the greater victory was the national relevance of the event. For the first-time ever, women’s soccer was the lead story in Canadian sporting circles, unifying a nation and their championship dreams.

There is no question that the 2012 London Summer Games was the coming-out party for the Canadian national team, helping a nation of fans discover the sport. As such, the exceptional support and national pride that emanated during the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup helped transform women’s soccer from novelty sport into an obsession, which should result in unprecedented growth.

In many ways, the heartbreak of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup mirrors the disaster that the Canadian national women’s hockey team experienced in a silver medal outcome at the 1998 Nagano Winter Games. Despite not meeting golden expectations, hockey had made an impression on Canadian sports fans, subsequently giving a generation of young sporting girls role models to look up to.

The Nagano Games would serve as the moment where women’s hockey became a relevant aspect of sport in Canada, resulting in more than just increased awareness, but a rapid number of players registering in following years. In effect, the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup is destined to have the same impact, as the next few years should see even more young girls interested in playing soccer, due to the efforts of exceptional women such as Christine Sinclair.

Canadian captain Christine Sinclair logs game-winning goal to open 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup

In the opening game of the 2015 FIFA Women’s’ World Cup, it was only fitting that Canadian captain Christine Sinclair provided the heroics. Scoring the first goal of the event, Sinclair’s goal also stood as the game-winning goal in an emotional 1-0 win against China, ranked 16th in the world.

Adding to the drama was the fact that said goal was scored past the 90th minute of play. With the score deadlocked at 0-0, the Chinese tried to waste time, running out the clock, as the Canadian fans booed in disapproval. A key strategy for Canadian head coach John Herdman involved substituting players later in the game to attempt and create scoring chances.

Kaylyn Kyle replaced Jonelle Foligno after 61 minutes of play. His following substitution saw Desiree Scott step in for Jessie Fleming. His final decision featured Leon for Melissa Tancredi at the 77th minute.

Making her 224th international appearance, Sinclair earned the chance to score on a penalty kick in stoppage after Adriana Leon fell to the ground after contact with Zhao Rong. The goal would prove to be the 154th in her distinguished career. Statistically, Canada had possession of the ball for 62 percent, while outshooting the Chinese by a convincing 14-5 margin.

With an outstanding crowd of 53,058 fans at Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium, national pride ran rampant. In addition, the attendance set a new record for a national team match in Canada. The previous record was 51,936 when the Canadian men’s team played Brazil (also at Commonwealth Stadium).

Intriguing personalities to look for at the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup

One of the realities of the Women’s World Cup is that many of these competitors will be looked upon as sex symbols. Although it may present a point of tension among some, the number of web pages devoted to the most attractive female footballers is in significant abundance. Perhaps it is not so wrong to celebrate the beauty of these women, but it is essential to recognize and acknowledge their sporting abilities. Beauty aside, these are truly some of the world’s most talented footballers and could easily hold their own against several men’s teams. Their opportunity to compete on a global scale may lead to a much greater appreciation of their contributions to the Beautiful Game.

Megan Rapinoe

Appearing in the 2014 edition of the ESPN Body Issue

Appearing in the 2014 edition of the ESPN Body Issue

A member of the Seattle Reign, Rapinoe’s soccer resume also includes stints with the Chicago Red Stars, Philadelphia Independence and France’s Olympique Lionnaise. Her breakthrough moment occurred at the 2011 edition of the FIFA Women’s World Cup. Trailing against Brazil, her cross to Abby Wambach tied the game, sparking the greatest comeback in US soccer history.

The following year, she would accumulate seven points (including a Goal Olimpico) in a gold medal effort at the 2012 London Summer Games. Such momentum led to a pair of remarkable milestones in 2013. Not only was she recognized as the Best Player of the Algarve Cup, she earned an assist on Abby Wambach’s record-breaking goal in international play with 159. Said assist occurred in a friendly against South Korea on June 20.

Considering that Rapinoe is a strong supporter of several LGBT organizations, having come out in July 2012, she may become the focus of attention for several members of the media looking to write positive pieces about players with same-sex preferences. An ambassador for Athlete Ally, an organization determined to end homophobia in sport, her status as world-class soccer player may help increase awareness. Currently in a relationship with musician Sera Cahoone, a World Cup title would be the perfect complement to an outstanding career.

Anouk Hoodendijk (Netherlands)

Taking part in a photoshoot for Nike

Taking part in a photoshoot for Nike

An 11-year veteran of the Dutch national women’s team, her presence shall be one based on leadership. In her international career, scoring the game-winning kick in the penalty shootout against France may have stood as a career highlight. Of note, it helped the Netherlands advance to the semi-finals of the Women’s Euro 2009.

A lifelong supporter of the Dutch powerhouse Ajax Vrouwen, the club established a female team in May 2012. The opportunity to compete for the squad in their inaugural season was a cherished moment in her career. Having also been signed by the Arsenal Ladies (England), she never suited up for the squad.

Julia Simic (Germany)

Julia Simic

Julia Simic

Simic is a product of Germany’s player development, having competed with their U18 and U23 teams. From both German and Crotian descent, she is a competitor with VfL Wolfsburg, a championship team from the Women’s Bundesliga, she is signed through 2017. In anticipation of the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup, Simic was among five female soccer players that appeared in a partial state of undress in the pages of German Playboy.

Jessica Landstrom (Sweden)
JessicaLandstrom

Having scored a goal in her debut for the Swedish national team (November 8, 2007), Landstrom is aiming for another podium finish in Canada. At the 2011 edition of the FIFA Women’s World Cup, Sweden earned a bronze medal, one of the highlights in her proud career. Influenced by elite strikers such as Lotta Schelin and Victoria Sandell Svensoon, Landstrom wants to stake her claim as the next of the elites.

Currently, a member of Sky Blue FC, Landstrom has also played in Germany. Ironically, she holds a unique connection with a current member of the US national team. Having established herself as a star in the Swedish league, American-born Christen
Press departed Goteborg FC, only to be replaced by Landstrom.

Back in 2008, Landstrom also came out, expressing her same-sex preference. At a time when many athletes were not comfortable disclosing such information, she helped open the door for other athletes to do so. Also a highly educated individual, Landstrom possesses a master’s degree in mechanical engineering.

Érika Cristiano dos Santos (Brazil)

CALENDÁRIO DO CENTENÁRIO DO SANTOS FC - Érika,  jogadora do Santos FC, durante lançamento do calendário do centenário e da coleção moda praia do clube. O calendário é um ensaio sensual das jogadoras santistas e é datado de abril de 2011 até abril de 2012, quando o Santos FC completará 100 anos. - Estádio Urbano Caldeira (Vila Belmiro) - Santos - SP - Brasil - 13/04/2011 - Foto: Ricardo Saibun/Gazeta Press

CALENDÁRIO DO CENTENÁRIO DO SANTOS FC – Érika, jogadora do Santos FC, durante lançamento do calendário do centenário e da coleção moda praia do clube. O calendário é um ensaio sensual das jogadoras santistas e é datado de abril de 2011 até abril de 2012, quando o Santos FC completará 100 anos. – Estádio Urbano Caldeira (Vila Belmiro) – Santos – SP – Brasil – 13/04/2011 – Foto: Ricardo Saibun/Gazeta Press

Providing the Brazilian contingent with a talent that can complement those of Marta, de los Santos is a rising star in the game. Competing with Centro Olímpico, she contributed to Brazil capturing the silver medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Possessing the versatility to play both forward and defense, de los Santos will likely log a significant amount of playing time. Her sex appeal with fans may raise her to an unforeseen level of popularity or media interest. A few seasons ago, her club team in Brazil donned a fashion runway wearing tiny swimsuits. With a confidence that could be interpreted as empowering, de los Santos captured the imaginations of those in attendance with her stunning appearance in a black and white number.

Of note, this year’s World Cup does not mark the first time that dos Santos competes in North America. During 2009, she competed in the now-defunct Women’s Professional Soccer with FC Gold Pride.

In World Cup play, dos Santos is looking for redemption. Having faked an injury during an emotional quarterfinal loss against the United States, she was shown the yellow card. It led to a downward spiral in her career, where she missed two years with the Brazilian national team due to injury.

Corine Franco (France)

Featured in the French version of Self Magazine (Photo credit: Getty Images)

Featured in the French version of Self Magazine (Photo credit: Getty Images)

As the veteran leader of the French national team, Corine Franco wants to ensure that France does not endure another fourth place finish which befell them in a loss to Canada at the 2012 London Summer Games. Compounding such a loss was the fact that France also finished in fourth at the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

The team captain of Olympic Lyon, she has competed in almost 90 international games for the French national team. Serving as the captain for France’s entry into the 2015 World Cup, the determination for a podium finish is stronger than ever. As a side note, she was one of three footballers from the French national team to appear in a complete state of undress for Self Magazine. Photographed by Getty Images, the images showcased the confidence of these athletic women to appear in such a manner.

Sydney Leroux and Lauren Sesselmann
Considering the rivalry that exists between Canada and the United States in women’s soccer, it is an anomaly of sorts to see a pair of players competing for the opposite country. Should these two countries cross paths in the elimination matches at this year’s World Cup, there is no question that their allegiances shall make for an interesting story with members of the media.

Born in British Columbia, Leroux is a competitor for the United States national team. Having captured the gold medal at the 2012 London Summer Games, it only added to the bitter taste that Canadians felt after a controversial loss to the US in the semi-finals. When Nike revealed the new uniforms for the US team a few weeks ago, Leroux was one of the players who modeled them.

Having been ranked by many sports websites as one of the most beautiful competitors at the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, Sesselman’s popularity is bound to increase. With a very strong following on social media, the irony of her career with Canada’s national team is that she was born in Wisconsin. Canadian sports fans who were not familiar with soccer quickly became interested after seeing her and fellow teammates Emily Zurrer looking stunning in swimsuits in Sportsnet Magazine’s Beauty of Sport edition.

Hope Solo
HopeSoloESPY

Despite a brilliant career complemented by so many remarkable achievements, the great tragedy of Hope Solo’s career is the controversy that has defined it. Although some criticisms may not be fair comment, the sad reality is that Solo will likely have to tolerate it for the remainder of her career. Considered one of the world’s most beautiful female soccer players, Solo has graced the cover of popular magazines such as ESPN, Newsweek and Vogue. There is no question that the media spotlight shall shine brightly on Solo, who is looking to help the US avenge its second place finish at the 2011 edition of the World Cup.

Marta Vieira da Silva (Brazil)

Photo credit: Paulo Fridman / Corbis. Soccer

Photo credit: Paulo Fridman / Corbis. Soccer

Quite possibly the world’s greatest female soccer player, a World Cup championship would cement Marta’s sterling legacy. Taking into account that Brazil is one of the world superpowers in soccer, fans have been disappointed that its female stars have not been able to emulate their male counterparts on the world’s biggest soccer stages. Having won a champion with the Western New York Flash in WPS play, Marta is accustomed to big game situations. With a much improved supporting cast on the Brazilian squad, it would come as no surprise to see Marta competing in Vancouver.

Abby Wambach

Abby Wambach on 1 of 4 variant covers for Sports Illustrated's 2015 World Cup coverage

Abby Wambach on 1 of 4 variant covers for Sports Illustrated’s 2015 World Cup coverage


If any player may be considered the villain of the World Cup, it might be Abby Wambach. In criticizing the use of artificial turf at all of the Canadian venues for the event, it struck a media firestorm.

Faking into account the rivalry between Canada and the United States, Wambach may be booed in the preliminary matches. The tensions were understandable as the upcoming World Cup shall be the first (including the men’s edition) that shall be played exclusively on artificial turf.

Having scored more goals than any other player in the history of the US women’s program (178), a Women’s World Cup title is the only accolade eluding her. Possessing two Summer Games gold medals, she has also won an ESPY Award for Best Play. This past April, she appeared on American Idol, offering Ryan Seacrest a US jersey and the chance to be a waterboy for the women’s team.

Controversy aside, Wambach is definitely the veteran leader of this United States team and her goal is to lead the US to its first World Cup title since hosting the event in 1999.

Christine Sinclair

A jubilant Sinclair inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame in 2013 (Photo credit: Michelle Siu, Canadian Press)

A jubilant Sinclair inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame in 2013 (Photo credit: Michelle Siu, Canadian Press)

If the 2012 London Summer Games were Christine Sinclair’s coming out party, then the 2015 edition of the FIFA Women’s World Cup is a remarkable appreciation tour. With the event being hosted in her native Canada, Sinclair has become one of the most influential athletes, male or female, in Canada’s sporting conversation. Since the London Summer Games, female soccer players have started to garner the attention and celebrity status once reserved for Canada’s female hockey heroes. Should Canada claim the World Cup, it would be safe to assume that Sinclair’s strong leadership would make her the choice to claim the Lou Marsh Trophy, honoring the Canadian athlete of the year.

Coca-Cola and Christine Sinclair team up for historic ad campaign

As momentum for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup builds up among Canadian sports fans, Coca-Cola Canada has greatly contributed to sparking interest. Its most recent TV spot celebrates the women’s game while paying tribute to one of the Canadian team’s all-time greats.

Part of an unprecedented partnership with FIFA, the 2015 edition of the FIFA Women’s World Cup marks the first time that Coca-Cola is involved with the event. Said spot highlights Canadian team captain Christine Sinclair, an ad meant to encourage and empower women in sport.

ChrstineSinclairCocaCola

Titled, “It’s a Girl’s Game”, the spot was conceived by Sid Lee, and features Sinclair and a teenage girl playing a soccer video game together. Jumping into the video game, which features male players on the pitch, Sinclair is dominating the field. In the game’s aftermath, Sinclair is seen celebrating with the consumption of Coca-Cola. Afterwards, the screen features the inspirational line, “Happiness is seeing yourself in the game. Proud supporter of women in sport.”

Considering that some of the values of the Coca-Cola brand include concepts such as “inclusiveness, happiness, and optimism”, their support of FIFA’s Women’s World Cup is a superlative way of celebrating the growth and positive impact of female soccer in Canada. As a side note, soccer is one of those rare sports where men and women can truly play together and there is no gender barrier or disadvantage.

Coke-FIFA-case-e1431008508500

Coca-Cola shall also feature a series of collector cans, commemorating the six host cities of the event. Adding to the collectability is a special edition aluminum bottle which shall be available at the FIFA Women’s World Cup trophy tour.

Ottawa, April 1, 2015: Nepean Hotspurs players with Nozomi Yamago of Japan, current FIFA World Cup winner, on first leg of the FIFA Women's World Cup trophy tour. Photo credit: Joe Lofaro

Ottawa, April 1, 2015: Nepean Hotspurs players with Nozomi Yamago of Japan, current FIFA World Cup winner, on first leg of the FIFA Women’s World Cup trophy tour. Photo credit: Joe Lofaro

In partnership with FIFA, Coca-Cola is also the sponsor for this 12-city trophy tour. Having started in the nation’s capital of Ottawa, Ontario on April 1, fans have the opportunity to get their photograph taken with the Women’s World Cup trophy. An added bonus for the fans in Ottawa was the chance to meet Nozomi Yamago, a member of the Japanese team that captured the FIFA Women’s World Cup when it was last contested in 2011.

Of note, this is the first time that the FIFA Women’s World Cup has toured Canada, only adding to the impact of the event for fans throughout the country. Other features of the tour including the chance to participate in a virtual game against the Coca-Cola Ultimate Goalie, along with an opportunity for fans to record a message of good luck.

Female soccer stars immortalized on commemorative Canadian postage stamp

As the 2015 FIFA Womens’ World Cup approaches quickly, host country Canada is immortalizing several of its soccer heroes. Canada Post is issuing a commemorative postage stamp featuring Christina Sinclair and Kadeisha Buchanan. In recognition of Japan’s status as defending World Cup champion, goalkeeper Ayumi Kaihori also graces the image of said stamp.

Released on May 6, 2015, it pays homage to the superstar (Sinclair) that paved the way for soccer in Canada while recognizing the new generation (Buchanan) of Canadian women helping to build on such momentum. Among the Canadian dignitaries at the release of said stamp included the Honourable Lisa Raitt, Minister of Transport and responsible for Canada Post. She was joined by the Honourable Bal Gosal, Minister of State (Sport), along with Deepak Chopra, President and CEO, Canada Post.

Image obtained from http://www.canadapost.ca

Image obtained from http://www.canadapost.ca

Designed by Debbie Adams of Toronto, the stamps were printed on Tullis Russell paper with lithography of eight colors. In addition, the stamp depicts the name of every host city (and its respective province) during the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, which shall culminate with the championship game contested on July 5 at BC Place in Vancouver.

Of note, the stamps are available in booklets of ten, while the Official First Day Cover will be cancelled in Edmonton, site of the opening game between Canada and China on June 6, 2015. In addition, a collectible plaque featuring the image of the stamp is available and limited to only 1,000 units.

Since the London 2012 Summer Games, women’s soccer has become an integral part of Canada’s sporting conversation, elevating Sinclair to an iconic status once reserved for hockey heroes. Having played in more than 150 games for the Canadian national team, Sinclair is the only competitor to have scored a hat trick against US goaltender Hope Solo. Heading into the 2015 World Cup, this shall be Sinclair’s fourth consecutive appearance. Having also played at the 2008 and 2012 Summer Games, she earned a bronze in 2012, while being honored as the flag bearer at the Closing Ceremonies.

Buchanan is one of the rising stars on Canada’s defensive unit, praised by head coach John Herdman as the “Christine Sinclair of defenders”. Currently competing at the NCAA level with the University of West Virginia Mountaineers, she is ranked number 6 in the US among collegiate and non-professional female competitors.

The world catches up to Christine Sinclair

In a rivalry that may mirror the visceral Canadian-American rivalry that has defined the world of women’s ice hockey for several generations, the semi-final of the London 2012 Games set the stage for what may be the turning point in Canadian women’s soccer. With the lead having changed hands four times, the US (led by Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan) came back from a 3-2 deficit to prevail by a controversial 4-3 tally.

Contested in Manchester, England, home to some of the greatest soccer matches played in history, the ladies of Canada and the United States ensured that the fans would bear witness to some outstanding women’s soccer. Despite the 4-3 loss to the United States, Sinclair gave one of the greatest performances in Summer Games soccer, in what may have been one of the most exciting and entertaining matches in women’s history. The all-time leader in goals scored for the Canadian national squad, Sinclair scored a hat trick against Hope Solo. It was the first time Solo allowed more than two goals in the London Summer Games. Said hat trick was among six goals scored in overall play at the Games.

Despite the heartbreaking loss: two themes in the game were evidently clear: despite their number one ranking, the United States were humbled, and Christine Sinclair is truly one of the world’s elite soccer players. If the world did not know how great a star she was, the August 6 contest was her coming out party.

The bronze medal game against France was another example of Sinclair displaying the essence of leadership. While she did not score the game winning goal, her presence made all the difference as Diane Matheson scored the goal that helped Canada clinch the historic bronze medal.  It was Canada’s first medal in a team sport at the Summer Games since 1936, when the Canadian men’s basketball squad claimed a silver medal. Sinclair has conducted her game with a quiet dignity that would have made legends like Pele and Maradona proud.

The native of Burnaby, British Columbia, she is a seven-time recipient of the Canada Soccer Player of the Year award, while a five time nominee for FIFA World Player of the Year. Her uncles, Bruce and Brian Gant played in the North American Soccer League. A two-time champion in WPS (once with FC Gold Pride and the second with the Western New York Flash), Brazilian superstar Marta played with her on both championship teams. With the Flash, Sinclair led the WPS in goals scored, and was named MVP of the Final.

A legend at the University of Portland, she scored 23 goals as a freshman, while being named All-American. In 2002, the sophomore led the NCAA with 26 goals, and scored the goal to give Portland the national championship. The Globe and Mail named her one of the 25 most influential people in Canadian sports. The final game of her career with Portland resulted in two goals scored during a 4-0 defeat of UCLA in the national title game. A two-time winner of the Hermann Trophy, the equivalent of the Heisman Trophy in NCAA soccer, she became the third soccer player to win the Honda-Broderick Cup (awarded to the College Woman of the Year).

Although Sinclair will have other opportunities at Summer Games gold, and at the World Cup (being hosted by Canada in 2015), there is no question that should those goals go unachieved, Sinclair will always be a Canadian sporting legend. As Mia Hamm and Brandi Chastain were two of the first legends in United States women’s soccer, Sinclair has cemented her legacy as the first Canadian soccer superstar.