About 7.6 million people tuned in to BBC One to watch England play the USA in the Women’s World Cup semi-final, making it the largest TV audience for a women’s football game ever on UK TV. Along with that single game figure, the BBC has reported that the 2019 tournament had extended its record for TV reach to 22.2 million, well in excess of the 12.4 million audience figure for the 2015 edition of the Women’s World Cup in Canada.
The FIFA Women’s World Cup in France has been a celebration of women’s football, a fantastic event with lots of drama, action and passion. It has also signalled a new age for the recognition of women’s sport around the world.
Although female footballers are still struggling to achieve pay parity with their international male counterparts, this World Cup has seen a tremendous leap forward in the recognition and acknowledgement of women’s football.
FIFA has raised prizemoney for the tournament from $15 million in 2015 to $30 million, but for the 2018 men's World Cup it was a staggering $400 million, with winners France taking home $38 million. But even though the money is not at the level of the men’s game, corporate sponsorship and support is starting to ramp up.
Look through the list of the tournament’s major sponsors and you will see some of the biggest global brands committing their support to the future of women’s football. Major sponsors of the tournament like Adidas, Coca-Cola, Wanda, Hyundai, KIA, Qatar Airways and Visa all recognise not just the feel-good factor of being involved with the Women’s World Cup, but also the potential of reaching female consumers too.
While it is not at the behemoth level of the men’s tournament yet, this Women’s World Cup marks a watershed moment in many ways for women’s sport. Big crowds at the games, healthy global TV audiences and strong corporate support all indicate women’s football is well and truly on the up.
Football is the world’s biggest sport, played in almost every country in the world, and with the most participants and spectators of any sport. Its reach is truly global and cuts across all sectors of society. That women now have a seat at this table is brilliant.
While Australia’s women’s national team, the Matildas, might not have gone as far in the tournament as we had hoped, we can now turn our attention to the prospect of potentially hosting a Women’s World Cup in Australia. Australian sports fans have an opportunity to #GetOnside and support a bid to host the 2023 Women’s World Cup. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see the world’s best female footballers gather together in our country for this tournament. And as the host nation, we might even have an opportunity to go all the way and win the World Cup!
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