Women’s football interest on the rise as World Cup gets underway

08.06.15, London – With an expanded line-up of 24 teams, the seventh edition of the FIFA Women’s World Cup, which began on Saturday, is the biggest yet and is being played across six Canadian cities in front of its biggest global audience ever.

According to SportsDNA data by Repucom, the adviser in sports and entertainment, global interest in women’s football has risen from 16 per cent in 2011, when the last FIFA Women’s World Cup was played, to 21 per cent in 2014.

Repucom research shows that the FIFA Women’s World Cup itself has a global fan base of over 200 million.

Germany, the host nation in 2011, has 15.5 million fans looking forward to the Women’s World Cup, while Canada has a fan base of three million.

France, which has been selected as host of the 2019 tournament, has 6.6 million Women’s World Cup fans.

In the United States, where English-language coverage of the tournament is being broadcast by Fox for the first time this year, there are 35.5 million potential Cup fans, the second-largest single market behind China. Given the advantageous time zone – Fox plans to broadcast five games in prime-time – and a competitive US team – they are the reigning Olympic champions and were beaten finalists in the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup – the tournament is likely to yield large audiences in the USA.

Michael O’Hara Lynch, Repucom’s US Head of Consulting, said: “Based on what we saw at the 2014 Brazil FIFA World Cup, the London 2012 Olympic Games, and the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup, expect record North American interest in the 2015 FIFA World Cup.

“Football continues to grow in the United States and Canada through the ongoing success and expansion of Major League Soccer, United Soccer League, a rejuvenated National Women’s Soccer League, the men’s and women’s US national teams’ competitive performance, and grassroots programmes. Favourable broadcast time zones, and exploding digital and social media engagement, will provide a compelling North American platform for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup.”

Lynch added: “A new coveted millennial generation of fans are being captured, making football an increasingly attractive proposition for sponsors – and the women’s game offers a comparatively blank canvas for brands. As FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015 will likely show, women’s football offers compelling commercial opportunities.”


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During the FIFA Women’s World Cup, Repucom’s online World Cup hub is being updated to examine the fans, hosts and players of women’s football and the challenges women’s sport continues to face.

In overall terms, across global markets measured by Repucom, female interest in football around the world has increased from 34.3 per cent in May 2011 to 43 per cent in November 2014.

Earlier this year, Repucom published a major report entitled Women and Sport, examining and highlighting the growing importance of female fans and athletes.

Underlining the importance of female sports fans in general to sponsors and brands, the ‘Women and Sport’ report, utilising Repucom’s ground-breaking Fan DNA research, showed that women of between 30 and 49 years of age spend more on buying clothing for sport than the average man – US$188 per year compared to US$178.

“We’re living through a period of rapid change in women’s engagement with sport – as athletes, as fans and as consumers,” said Mike Wragg, Repucom Executive Vice President and Global Head of Research.

“Iconic brands are seeing sport as a way of connecting to a new generation of female consumers around the world, and governments are realising the benefits of promoting healthier lifestyles for women through sport. This summer’s FIFA Women’s World Cup could prove to be another important catalyst for these changes.”