Hyundai celebrate women's football with FIFA World Football Museum exhibition in Paris
Legendary USA striker Mia Hamm is the subject of a painting by artist Rachel Gadsden at an exhibition on the history of women's football
Last Updated: 04/07/19 1:12pm
England's World Cup dream may have ended in semi-final heartbreak, but the tournament has caused a surge of interest in the women's game, attracting record audiences and underlining how far the sport has come.
To celebrate its long and varied history, which dates back 150 years, the FIFA World Football Museum is staging an exhibition in Paris on women's football in association with FIFA partner Hyundai.
The exhibition, which runs until Sunday, when the USA take on the Netherlands in the final, charts the rise of women's football and tells the story of how it has repeatedly overcome adversity and marginalisation to achieve global popularity.
Visitors can discover previously unheard stories related to the sport's development, with a host of fascinating exhibits which includes the FIFA Women's World Cup trophy itself.
The highlight of the exhibition, though, is a painting by British artist Rachel Gadsden, commissioned by Hyundai.
In the artwork, Gadsden depicts Mia Hamm, the legendary USA striker and two-time World Cup-winner, on the theme of 'true passion', a reference to the inner strength shown by female athletes to overcome so many challenges.
That inner strength is typified by both Gadsden, who suffers from a hereditary lung condition and visual impairment, and Hamm, who became an icon of women's football despite being born with a club foot.
"When we sit in an exhibition like this and we see that there have been 150 years of women playing football, it's unbelievable," said Gadsden at the unveiling of the painting.
"The journey that women have gone through is a suffrage and I feel this tournament has really captured that. In the painting, I was trying to capture something about the energy of women to be footballers and to bring that social change. Football is not just a sport, it's so much more than sport.
"It has been a really thrilling experience. I actually feel really honoured to be here and to have had this opportunity, not only because I think it showcases some of the things I'm very passionate about within my work, because I think it's part of this bigger story."
Hamm, who scored 158 goals in 276 appearances for the USA before her retirement in 2004, was similarly delighted to be involved in the project.
"When I first met Rachel, I just had to give her a hug," she said. "It was an emotional experience. I was incredibly touched and moved for her to put her true passion into representing me. It's incredibly humbling.
"Being a part of this exhibit and sharing this with Rachel is hopefully continued inspiration for the next generation, that they can follow their true passion. It's more than art, it's more than football for us, it's part of our soul and our hearts."