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You can’t ignore it anymore! Women’s football and its steady growth over time 💫📈

August 23, 2023

You can’t ignore it anymore! Women’s football and its steady growth over time 💫📈

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Men’s football has always dominated the headlines, but the women’s game has gained more prominence in recent years. 🙌

Sam Kerr, Alex Morgan, Alexia Putellas, Lieke Martens and so many more stars are establishing themselves as household names. 🔥

After an exciting 2023 World Cup, it’s obvious that women’s football isn’t something to toss aside anymore! We look into its global growth in recent years and key moments/milestones. 👇

Alex Morgan, Sam Kerr, Sophia Smith, Lieke Martens, Lucy Bronze, Alexia Putellas; these are just a few of the game’s biggest stars at the moment.

If you’re reading this, statistically speaking, you are probably much more educated on and familiar with men’s football. But if you recognize even just one of those above names, take it as proof of how far women’s football has come.

You may know these names not only because these players are among the best players in the world, but because thanks to an ongoing global movement, football is becoming much more accessible, regardless of gender.

For decades, women have been fighting to put themselves on the map when it comes to sports, and it’s only in recent years that we are starting to see the fruits of their efforts. Female footballers are more than just athletes who compete, they are ambassadors and leaders who are looking to create positive change in a society primarily dominated by men across all fields.

In this 16th edition of our newsletter, we take a look at women's football, its recent growth and the reasons why it's becoming more popular, backed up with data and key points.

🔢 It’s in the statistics

Although there remains a significant gap between men’s and women’s competitions, it has been slowly but surely shortening over time.

Newfound recognition for the women’s game can be credited to various factors, such as sponsorships, increased media exposure, renovations to existing competitions, increased revenue and on-field success and visible genuine talent by today’s stars.

Let’s take a look at some key statistics that really bring this growth to life. The following information comes from an official landscape survey report by FIFA, conducted this year.

  • The number of women and girls playing organized football has increased by nearly a quarter compared to 2019 (up to 16.6 million)
  • 88% of member associations surveyed have a women’s football strategy
  • 67% have a safeguarding policy
  • 55% of member associations have a club licensing system in place at their top tier of domestic women’s football 
  • Of the three key revenue streams (matchday, broadcast and commercial), commercial revenue makes up the largest proportion in women’s football today. 
  • 34% of women’s top-tier senior domestic competitions have a dedicated women’s football sponsor
  • 12% of member association executive committee members are female
  • 9% of referees are women
  • 5% of coaches are women

Meanwhile, UEFA has also recently released some noteworthy data. By 2033, they estimate that there could be as many as 328 million women’s football fans, which would in term cause a massive increase in overall revenue from the current 116 million to an amount between 552 and 686 million. 295 million of this total would be from sponsors alone, up 427.5% from the current 69 million.

Here’s some more randomized, key statistics:

  • Clubs reported a year-on-year commercial revenue growth of 33% -- indicating growing interest from sponsors
  • 77% of leagues had a title sponsor, up from 11% in 2021.
  • 50,000 fans showed up for the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations Final between Morocco and South Africa.
  • 91,000 fans packed into the Camp Nou for a UWCL quarterfinal match between Barcelona and Wolfsburg.
  • More women are receiving higher-quality sponsorship deals: Alessia Russo earned an estimated £4,000 per sponsored post in the first quarter of 2023 through deals with Oakley and Adidas
  • Domestic leagues are booming, with this season’s average WSL crowds 2.5 times bigger than the previous season.
  • The UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 saw a prize fund that was doubled from the previous edition.
  • The EURO 2022 women’s tournament attracted 574,000 spectators, while the UEFA Women’s Champions League final alone attracted 91,648 viewers and TV viewers.

We could go on by providing an endless list of data and numbers showcasing the progress being made in the world of women’s football. The point is that the change is real, and it’s happening in real-time. More and more people are turning their heads toward the women’s game, and it’s for more reasons than just what’s happening on the field.

🫂 More than just about football

But why exactly are these sudden increases in revenue and arrival of sponsors happening? Much of this can be attributed to the ongoing movements that have taken place in the last decade.

An important comparison has to be made here. Men’s football has always dominated, that’s not something anybody can disagree on. Not only is it exponentially more popular and profitable than the women’s game, but it’s the undisputed leader of sport revenue regardless of gender.

However, there’s a big difference. Men’s football doesn’t need to grow. It certainly will continue to, as there are plenty of countries that don’t necessarily prioritize the beautiful game. But it doesn’t need growth because it’s already at the peak of recognition and popularity.

It’s a different scenario for a female professional player, who plays the game not only because they love it and are talented enough to reach a high level, but they also fight every day to grow the game and create space and recognition for the women’s game in society.

In a way, the average female professional footballer is playing for much more than just their love for the game; they’re playing for a greater purpose. They are playing to push their side of the sport further; it’s an entire movement.

There is no such movement in men’s football because they already hold the #1 spot. Not only that, but they also aren’t fighting sexism, homophobia and overall lack of equality on the same scale that women are.

So, it’s more than just about the football being played. It’s about inclusion in the public sphere, specifically the public athlete sphere, a space that is primarily dominated by men across all sports. We see the same happening with the NBA, and the steady growth of the WNBA in recent years.

Gender inequality in sports is nothing new. It’s unfortunate that it should even be a debate. One look at the comments section of an Instagram post covering women’s football by a page like 433 or BRFootball and you’ll have all the evidence necessary to understand how big of a problem it is.

Regardless of politics and whatever opinion you may hold on certain issues, the one thing that shouldn’t be up for public dispute is that women shouldn’t be disregarded and excluded from playing the sport we all love.

We shouldn’t be comparing the skill level and abilities of men and women when it comes to football or any sport as a reason to downplay their side of the game and advocate for a salary and popularity gap. Salary increase should be decided solely on the basis of what women achieve on the field, not on a basis of gender comparison.

🤔🇺🇲 Thanks to the USWNT?

Well, it would certainly be difficult to talk about the advancement of women’s football if we left out the efforts of the USWNT.

They have been at the forefront of the movement for the better part of the last decade, and thanks to their back-to-back World Cup successes, their argument has grown to be even more justified.

Yet, there are still those that will refuse to bat an eye to the triumphs of these women on the field. It’s no surprise then that they have had to put in the extra mile off the field in order to gain the respect they deserve.

Let’s be honest: how would you feel if you were a part of a dream team that won the most prestigious tournament twice in a row, only to be welcomed by even more hate than there was before you won just because of what you stand for?

It gets even uglier to see the response to their shock Round of 16 loss to Sweden on penalties a few weeks ago. It almost seems as though the USWNT had no American support behind them; it’s as if the whole world was hoping and praying that they’d stumble.

It’s ironic to see this occur when you realize that the USWNT are fighting for the same thing that any other women’s team is fighting for; the only difference is that they have chosen to take up the responsibility of being the most vocal about it.

Spain went on to deservedly win the tournament, but regardless of who the winner was to be, it doesn’t make the fight against inequality and sexism any less valid just because the US couldn’t make it 3 for 3.

As much as USWNT has played a huge role in the ongoing efforts to grow women’s football and create space for them in society, it hasn’t been just them. Every person involved in their game, player or not, has been key.

Names like Asisat Oshoala (Nigeria), Leah Williamson (England), Ada Hegerberg (Norway) and Vivianne Miedema (Netherlands) are not only star footballers but also notable activists and ambassadors for positive change.

That’s it for the 16th edition of our newsletter! 😅
How did you like it? Let me know by messaging me via email at or by sending us a text. 📲
We want to make sure we’re providing the right content to you all, so if you have any interesting football business topics that you’d like us to write about, don’t hesitate to send in your requests! 📩
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Julian Febres

Content Manager

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