MOST people know I’ve made my career out of being a WAG. While married to former-Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur footballer Jason Cundy, I lived it up at two World Cups – and enjoyed every minute of it.
Despite Jason and I splitting in 2010, much of my money has been made on the back of our marriage.
But the new breed of WAGs (wives and girlfriends) is a very different species.
They keep such a low profile that I don’t think many people could even name half the England team’s partners.
Despite most being in their 20s, many of the WAGs of 2022 are married to their other halves, have kids together and their own careers – some as influencers with hundreds of thousands of social media followers.
They can’t be seen to be getting drunk on Veuve Clicquot and dancing on tables – they have reputations to protect.
It’s all a million miles away from the tournament where the term “WAGs” was coined.
While these days, their every move would be charted on social media, back then everything they did made the headlines.
In the beginning, some of the girls liked it, but others were a bit scared, having never faced such scrutiny before.
You have to remember that some, like Coleen Rooney, were barely out of school.
Then they realised they could make a career from all the attention they were getting, and their attitudes changed.
It was unbelievable and made all the front pages. We’d never seen such sights before – and I don’t think we will see them again.
The girls had a lot of power, but Sven got right behind it. He liked the attention being on the women, as it meant it wasn’t on the men, and they could just concentrate on the game.
Sven loved women and the glamour; it’s what he was all about. He wanted his players on the back pages of the newspapers, but he didn’t mind the girls being on the front, too.
He wanted them there on the sidelines supporting their partners. It was amazing. It made the atmosphere incredible – there was a real buzz about it.
But ultimately, the WAGs became the story.
After England lost to Portugal in the quarter-finals, the WAGs shouldered the blame.
Two years after that tournament, England defender Rio Ferdinand said: “We became a bit of a circus. Football almost became a secondary element. People were worrying more about what people were wearing or where they were going than the England football team.”
Things changed at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Unlike Sven, new manager Fabio Capello hated press attention. He didn’t want the players’ girlfriends or wives there.
It suited him that it was held in South Africa, as he could say it was too dangerous and that was a reason for the women to keep a low profile. He wanted the attention on the football.
For that reason, the atmosphere at the football matches was totally different. It just wasn’t as fun. It was never the same after that.
The decline of the WAGs began – they were no longer centre stage.
Perhaps some of the players got a bit jealous of the attention their partners were getting, too.
They would say: “Why are they all focused on you? What do you know about football?
It should be about me.” So you had that battle of the egos as well.
And as the World Cup 2022 kicks off today, it’s unlikely you’ll see much of the WAGs at all.
If you do, it’s likely to be on their carefully curated Instagram stories than paps snapping them falling out of bars.
They were there to have a wild time and they didn’t have to worry about losing commercial deals or – as is the case this year – going to jail or bringing shame on their country.
The army of WAGs accompanying the players to Qatar will reportedly be staying on a £1billion cruise liner off the coast of Doha, with their husbands not allowed on board.
They’ve been warned that if they put a designer-shoe-clad-foot out of place in strict Qatar, they could end up behind bars.
No booze, no skimpy outfits, no PDAs, no singing in public and no selfies – well, not outside official buildings at least.
However, it’s not likely these girls would get up to anything like that, even if they were allowed. They are a different breed.
To be honest, WAGdom is probably best left in the past anyway, because you can never recreate those golden days.
And of course, now we have a generation of women wanting to follow in our Euros-winning Lionesses’ footsteps – to be on the pitch and be the stars themselves.
Though I doubt we’re gonna see the rise of the HABs (husbands and boyfriends).
Sadly, I think the idea of WAGs causing mischief and being centre stage at the World Cup is a thing of the past.
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