Will women’s soccer ever be as popular as men’s soccer?
Women’s soccer has come a long way in the last few years. This can be noticed on a domestic level, where there are an increasing number of professional women players involved across top leagues like the Frauen-Bundesliga. It can also be seen in the media attention women’s soccer gets globally and how popular it is with the public. For example, a staggering 91,553 fans packed into Camp Nou to watch Barcelona ladies take on Real Madrid ladies in 2021.
Although this is very positive, the women’s game is not yet quite as popular universally as the men’s. Events like the Qatar 2022 World Cup in men’s soccer generally still attract more interest from both the media and the public. This is not only true for watching games but betting on them as well. The upcoming men’s World Cup in Qatar is likely to generate masses of interest from bettors and be an event that lots of people wager on. While people do bet on women’s soccer games, it is not yet at quite the same level.
Despite this, many people involved in women’s soccer are confident it will become as popular as men’s. But will this ever really happen?
Growth in recent years promising
While women’s soccer might not be quite as popular as men’s currently, figures around the sport show the gap has closed a lot in recent years. This is even more apparent when you see the rising attendance figures for the women’s game. If we take the Women’s FA Cup Final in England as an example, 49,094 watched it at Wembley in 2022 – compared to 45,423 in 2018.
This spike in numbers shows a clear progression in terms of the interest in women’s soccer, which should carry on in future. As time passes, this could well see the number of fans who follow the sport rival how many follow the men’s game.
Of course, you also have to look at how current figures in the women’s and men’s games compare for a better idea of whether the gap can be closed. When you consider that the 2022 men’s FA Cup Final in England attracted 84,897 fans to Wembley, you can see there is still some ground to make up. As the interest in women’s soccer continues to grow, though, the next few years could see it become ever more popular.
More media coverage required
If the women’s game is to ever truly rival the men’s in terms of popularity, even more positive media coverage is needed moving ahead.
This cuts across all media channels – from TV to newspapers and online. More women’s games need to be shown regularly on major TV networks, for example, in the same way as all the action from the men’s top leagues. Newspapers need to run match reports on leagues in their country, such as Division 1 Feminine – just as they do with men’s soccer.
More coverage is also needed online in terms of websites devoted to women’s soccer, and women’s soccer being more prominent on social media. All this will help bring the women’s game to even more people’s attention and show them how awesome it is.
Role models key
Men’s soccer is full of globally famous superstar players who help attract fans. People such as Erling Haaland also get young fans interested in playing the game and safeguard its future. This is something the women’s game could do even more to help fuel growth.
In simple terms, people need high-profile role models in the women’s game to identify with and to make it a sport worth following. This has already started to happen in the last few years, where players such as Sam Kerr have helped bring more attention to women’s soccer. If this can ramp up even further, we could see the gap between women’s and men’s soccer closing.
It is not only role models in terms of players who can help. More women presenters in soccer and more female TV pundits and commentators will also show that women have their place in the game. This could in turn get people thinking about women’s soccer and help it attract more supporters over time.
Women’s soccer could rival men’s one day
If women’s soccer can attract more investment to grow with and also focus on the unique differences it has to the men’s game (such as being more family friendly to attend, cheaper to watch and with greater levels of player/fan interaction), then it could be in for an exciting future. This could well see it not only rival the men’s game in terms of popularity but perhaps even surpass it.
The WSU Team bringing you news and updates from the world of women’s football.