Women’s football is seeing revenue growth globally from sponsorships, broadcasting deals and merchandise, while also seeing more interest from fans, according to a new survey by the game’s governing body.
FIFA released its second benchmark report on women’s football on FridayAs the sport grows ahead of next summer’s Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
The organization surveyed 30 top leagues and 294 clubs, building on the first benchmarking report published last year.
While COVID-19 affected club income in the previous report, the latest survey found growth across the board from matchday, broadcast, commercial and prize money sources. Clubs reported a 33% increase in commercial revenue year-on-year – indicating growing interest from sponsors. It found that 77% of leagues had a title sponsor, up from 11% in 2021.
Broadcast revenue grew 22% year over year. Ten leagues reported broadcast revenue, compared to nine in the previous survey.
But there is also room for growth. The report found that only 7% of clubs worldwide reported revenue of more than $1 million from matches, broadcasts, merchandise and prize money.
Sarai Barman, head of FIFA women’s football, said the report shows that women’s football is a wise investment.
“The changes in the second edition of the report are clear. We know it, we feel it,” she said. “And to me, it just gets the people involved, especially at the highest level of the game around our world, to see and understand the opportunity that’s sitting in front of them. It’s facts and information. That’s often the thing that appeals to people. … It’s not fiction anymore. It’s here on paper.”
The structural growth in women’s football has been accompanied by unprecedented enthusiasm for the game. The friendly between the United States and England at Wembley drew nearly 78,000 fans and was sold out within 24 hours.
The last African Women’s Cup of Nations saw 50,000 on hand for the final between Morocco and South Africa, and 91,000 fans were at Camp Nou for the UEFA Champions League quarter-final match.
“Women’s football is on a growth trajectory like no other sport in the world. It is the biggest growth opportunity that FIFA as an organization has today but more importantly, our sport, football, has today. is the biggest growth opportunity. And you don’t have to look far back to see those growth indicators,” Berman said.
The upcoming Women’s World Cup reflects the growth of the game with an expanded field of 32 teams, up from 24 in the previous two tournaments. This paved the way for first-time participants including Morocco, the Philippines, Ireland, Vietnam and Zambia.
But FIFA’s survey also comes at a troubled time for the game. In the United States, a recent investigation found systematic abuse and misconduct in the Women’s National Soccer League, the top level of sports in the country.
USA Soccer commissioned an investigation after firing North Carolina Courage coach Paul Riley last year after two former players accused him of harassment and sexual assault in a story in The Athletic last fall. Five of the 10 coaches in the NWSL last season were either fired or resigned due to misconduct.
FIFA has a safety program that was implemented at the U20 Women’s World Cup in Costa Rica this summer. The purpose of the program is to protect participants and fans from abuse, exploitation and harassment.
The 32 games of the tournament were played by a conservation official as well as a representative of the National Children’s Institute of Costa Rica. Participants were given information about abuse and how to report it.
The safety program is part of the FIFA Guardians initiative announced after the 2019 Women’s World Cup to ensure player safety. It was created with the help of the United Nations children’s agency UNICEF.
This will be in place for next summer’s Senior World Cup.