It was not the ending any England fan wanted to the Women’s World Cup, but the pain of defeat by Spain can give way to some happiness. After the joy of last year’s European Championship, this tournament overcame its troublesome time zone and has further raised the profile of the women’s game.

Here are five sure signs that women’s football has now gone mainstream.

Long before this World Cup began we were told that Australia and New Zealand were further back on their path of gender equality in sport. Neither country is atypical for giving men’s teams a vastly higher profile than women’s, but this World Cup suggested that the sport is more than capable of attracting comparable numbers to stadiums.

Close to two million people saw a game in person across the tournament, adding to last year’s record for a women’s game at the Nou Camp, 91,600 watching Barcelona beat Wolfsburg 5-1. For those who went and have comparable experience of the men’s game there was the novel sight of rival fans sitting together without coming to blows. Few who watch a women’s game in person find the experience off putting.

Mary Earpsgate

Kits have been a battleground for women’s football for some time. Looking back to the playing days of former England manager Hope Powell it is absurd to see the best players of the time swallowed by billowing men’s shirts.

Thankfully the women are now given appropriately-fitted kit, often in bespoke designs, but not all of it is available to buy. There was much anger about the lack of a retail version of Mary Earps’ goalkeeper kit, a story which would not have existed without real demand to own it from the paying public.

Good luck finding a resolution in Nike’s latest response to the matter: “We hear and understand the desire for a retail version of a goalkeeper jersey and we are working towards solutions for future tournaments, in partnership with Fifa and the federations.” When the sportswear giants start releasing mealy-mouthed statements you know your sport has reached the big time.

Viewing figures

Streaming app downloads have spiked in line with the biggest games. Two billion watched the tournament around the world if we are to believe Gianni Infantino, and when has he ever let us down? In Australia the semi-final defeat by England became the largest ever TV audience since the country’s measurement system began.

A sad day for fans of Scott and Charlene’s wedding, but a happier one for women’s football.

Politicians getting involved

It is an immutable rule of modern politics that any event of significance must be remarked upon by our elected representatives, lest they seem out of touch. Few were able to resist the lure of the bandwagon, but not all of them boarded successfully.

Rishi Sunak attempted to speak footballese after the final, saying “You left absolutely nothing out there @‌Lionesses.” Fair enough it was not the best performance against Spain, but to suggest England had put in so little effort they left no evidence of it on the pitch seems harsh.

Better from surprise postmodernist Ed Davey, widely laughed at for his highly posed semi-final photo. The Liberal Democrat leader posted the same photo on Sunday with an England shirt neatly Photoshopped in.

Anecdotal evidence

When a team goes deep into a tournament as England did in Auszealand you can expect plenty of vague talk of public imaginations being captured or even WHO concern about outbreaks of football fever. Such sentiments can be tough to measure.

What seems to be a universal experience this tournament is a pronounced upswing in the number and sorts of people engaging in the women’s game. WhatsApp groups which would never have considered watching the Lionesses a decade ago were abuzz with opinions, reactions and whinges around the big matches.

England shirts were everywhere on the days of their games. Families cancelled swimming lessons to watch the final together. All, in other words, exactly what you would expect of any other major sporting event.