By Amornrat Sidhu
Hosted by Australia and New Zealand this year, the FIFA Women’s World Cup began on 20 July and will reach its precipice on 20 August. Many may have decided this World Cup is unworthy to watch, but women’s football and the FIFA Women’s World Cup are gaining traction all over the world, with much potential for growth.
It is predicted that two billion viewers will watch the tournament this year. There is definitely excitement in the air, and part of this anticipation is generated by the involvement of celebrities and the marketing brilliance that have its audience by storm. For instance, the players of the United States Women’s National Soccer Team had a star-studded reveal with President Joe Bidenand First Lady Jill Biden, Lil Wayne, and Shaquille O’Neal as some of the celebrities announcing the players. Moreover, France’s advert for the FIFA Women’s World Cup shook and awed the whole world by showcasing career-defining goals by renowned male football stars, before revealing that they were actually made by members of the France Women’s National Football Team. This not only highlighted the skills and expertise of the team, but provoked reflection on the biases and stereotypes we hold about women’s sports and female athletes.
Growth and increased genuine interest in the game have worked hand-in-hand. A friendly pitch between the United States and England in women’s football saw nearly 80,000 people in attendance. Tickets were sold out in a day. This is just an example of the change we are seeing with the spectatorship of women’s football.
This interest has translated into increased profit and income for the industry. “Year-on-year commercial revenue has grown by 33 percent and year-on-year broadcast revenue grew by 22 percent,” according to an official report released by the FIFA Women’s World Cup organisation.
Say goodbye to kits that don’t fit properly and do nothing for the female aesthetic. Increased spectatorship means a brighter spotlight on the players, translating into more opportunities for sponsors and commercial partners to generate revenue. Grace Wales Bonner, a Jamaican designer, worked with Adidas to design the Jamaican football kits this year, whereas the pink-purple Japan away kit is out of stock on websites around the world and has been for a while.
Mayuri Manraj, 33
Senior Project Manager, Aurecon
Are you supporting anyone this World Cup?
Go MATILDAS!! (Australia)
What’s the vibe like around you when it comes to the FIFA Women’s World Cup?
Melbourne is buzzing with fans and supporters. It is so great to see media really rally for the tournament. All my friends and work colleagues are tuning in, especially for the Australia matches, which are nearly sold out. We have decorated our office for the World Cup, and we all have our team jerseys on for match days! Apparently, the Australia Women’s National Soccer Team has sold more merchandise than the men’s team! I also love how, as a nation, Australia is getting behind the Matildas and want to see them shine.
What made you want to watch the FIFA Women’s World Cup?
I think it’s the perfect occasion to get women’s sports into mainstream media and in daily conversation. I signed up my daughter, who is three-and-a-half years old, for soccer this year. We watched the match together on Thursday – so she knows that if she wants to, she can also be a super star in soccer!
Sabeeha Nair, 28
Primary School Teacher
Who are you supporting this year?
I don’t watch football in general, but I have heard that England is favoured to win as they won the UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 this year. Thus, if I had to choose, I would choose England!
Is there a lot of buzz around you about the FIFA Women’s World Cup?
I think there is more of an interest this year, but it’s difficult to access women’s sports on mainstream media. For example, you have to go on the more expensive package to get access to channels that showcase women’s sports. This acts as a deterrent.
Nimit Kukreja, 19
Are you interested in the FIFA Women’s World Cup? And if so, who will you support?
Unfortunately, I do not think I will be watching the Women’s World Cup this year.
What is the reason for this?
I believe there is a huge difference in quality between the men’s and women’s teams in football. I have tried watching women’s football before, but was underwhelmed with the expertise they showed. If I felt that they were on the same level as the men, then I wouldn’t miss a single game, as I love football as a whole.