What happened to the WAG? The women of the 2006 World Cup and how this year will differ

Cheryl (then) Tweedy and Victoria Beckham watching a match at the 2006 World Cup. [Photo: Getty]

When the England WAGS – that’s wives and girlfriends – touched down in Baden-Baden in June 2006, they ended up stealing the limelight from their other halves in more ways than one. 

In fact, the group of women became such a fixture in the media during the tournament that the acronym ‘WAG’ was coined and added to the dictionary a year later. 

The glamorous gang was no doubt helmed by Victoria Beckham – clad in micro shorts and boasting a mane of dyed blonde hair – with the likes of Cheryl (then) Tweedy, Coleen Rooney, Abbey Clancy and Alex Curran, in tow.

Coleen Rooney and Alex Curran on a night out in Germany in 2006. [Photo: Getty]

As the England team battled through the different stages, the WAGs were making their own headlines.

Reports of thousands spent in boutiques, champagne-fuelled nights out and dancing on bar tables swept the small town, with headlines like ‘Forget the Hooligans, Germany Battles the Real English Mob’ the norm.

During the month-long period the WAGs were in Germany, their antics were front page news both here and abroad. But why were we so fascinated by them?

Victoria Beckham in Baden-Baden in 2006. [Photo: Getty]

Why were the public so obsessed with WAGs?

In 2006, interest in the lavish lives of footballer players and their wives was at an all time high.

Social media barely existed (Twitter had only just launched and Instagram was still four years away), and the only access we had to their opulent lifestyles was through the pap shots published in papers and weeklies.

Wildly successful British TV series ‘Footballers’ Wives’ – which chronicled the scandalous lives of a fictional Premier League football club and their wives – had just aired its final season, which no doubt peaked public interest in the real life versions. 

Footballers’ Wives ran from 2002 to 2006. [Photo: Footballers’ Wives/ITV]

What happened to WAGs?

These days, we just don’t hear the term ‘WAG’.

Of course wives and girlfriends of footballers still exist, just not in the same hell-raising way Victoria Beckham’s squad did in 2006.

The term’s fall from favour also certainly has something to do with the anti-feminist connotations it has received since its conception.

The ‘wives and girlfriends of footballers’ were doing much more than their three-letter stamp suggested: Victoria Beckham for one was part of the most successful girl band of all time, the Spice Girls, while Cheryl Tweedy was making waves in Girls Aloud.

Plus, team managers are thought to discourage the presence of family at the tournament now.

During the 2006 World Cup, the ladies’ impact was so great that some football fans blamed England’s quarter final knock-out on the WAG’s reign in Baden-Baden. 

As for this year’s World Cup in Russia, the wives and girlfriends of the entirely new England squad are expected to have a ‘much lower profile’.

In fact, may of them won’t be joining their footballing beau’s in Repino, where they’re staying. 

Rebekah Vardy will be joining her footballer husband in Russia. [Photo: Getty]

Defender Danny Rose has reportedly told his family to stay at home over fears of racial discrimination, while Leicester striker Jamie Vardy’s wife Rebekah has said that, while she’ll in Russia, she’ll only be there to support.

She told Fabulous magazine: “The wives and girlfriends have a much lower profile now and that is how it should be. Our job is to be supportive.

“I would be mortified if I was pictured leaving a bar absolutely p***ed knowing that my husband was going to play one of the biggest games of his life the next day.”

While we can’t expect to see the wives and girlfriends of 2018’s squad storming the streets of Repino, it’s hard not to fondly look back at the exploits of VB and co. 

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