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The Rise of Women's Football and its Impact on Football Business.

Roger Hampel

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Women's football has come a long way from its humble beginnings, where it was once considered a niche sport with limited opportunities for growth. However, in recent years, the sport has seen a surge in popularity and interest, with more women participating and audiences tuning in to watch. This article will explore the growth of women's football, the business potential it holds, and its impact on the football industry.

The Growth of Women's Football

Women's football has seen a significant increase in participation and interest worldwide, with more countries investing in their national teams and leagues. The Deloitte Football Money League, which profiles the highest revenue generating clubs in world football, has analysed the revenue attributed to the affiliated women’s teams of Money League clubs for the first time in its 26th edition. The report shows that all 20 of the top clubs listed in the Money League have a women’s team, with 85% of them playing in the top tier division in their respective countries. Of these, 88% provided financial information pertaining to women’s football. The women’s teams of Money League clubs had average revenue of €2.4m in the 2021/22 season. FC Barcelona led the way with revenue of €7.7m, followed by Manchester United, Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain and North London rivals Arsenal and Tottenham. The report underlined the challenges of revenue polarisation and how collective and collaborative action can grow the financial return for all parties. Commercial sponsors are likely to be drawn to high profile clubs initially, facilitating further investment into these clubs and enabling teams to compete with their peers who are more established in the women’s game.


Sould out Camp Nou for Barca Femini game. Source: Catalan News

According to FIFA, the number of women's football teams has increased from 40 in 1971 to over 170 today, with over 30 million women and girls playing the sport globally. The Women's World Cup, the biggest tournament in women's football, has also seen a rise in viewership, with the 2019 edition attracting over 1 billion viewers. Women's football is becoming more visible, with more female role models and ambassadors promoting the sport and inspiring the next generation of players.

The Impressive Attendance of Women's Football

Last week, FC Barcelona's women's team, also known as Barca Femeni, played against Roma in the semi-finals of the women's Champions League. The game was held at Camp Nou, and an impressive 54,667 Barca fans attended the match. This large turnout was crucial to the team's success, as they had a one-goal lead from the previous game in Italy. The atmosphere was electric, with the fans showing their support from the very start. By half-time, FC Barcelona was leading 3-0, and the fans celebrated with a Mexican wave. This attendance broke the previous record of 46,967 for a group stage match against Bayern. Although this is a significant increase, it is still far below the record-breaking crowd of over 90,000 who attended last season's quarter and semi-finals against Real Madrid and Wolfsburg, respectively.


The Business of Women's Football

Women's football is becoming a profitable business, with clubs and organizations investing in the sport and reaping the benefits. According to Forbes, the value of women's football has increased by over 20% in the past year, and the market is expected to continue growing.

Revenue streams for women's football clubs and organizations include ticket sales, sponsorships, broadcasting rights, merchandise sales, and player transfers. The National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) in the United States has seen a surge in sponsorship deals, with brands like Nike, Budweiser, and Procter & Gamble investing in the league. In Europe, top women's football clubs like Lyon, Barcelona, and Chelsea have reported increased revenues and profits in recent years, demonstrating the business potential of women's football.


The Impact of Women's Football on the Industry

Women's football is not only becoming a profitable business but also having a positive impact on the overall football industry. The sport is changing the perception of football and increasing its reach, attracting new audiences and fans. Women's football is also challenging gender stereotypes and promoting diversity and inclusion in the sport.

The success of women's football is also having an impact on sponsorship deals, broadcasting rights, and other aspects of the industry. Brands are recognizing the potential of women's football and investing in the sport, leading to increased revenue for clubs and organizations. Broadcasters are also showing more women's football matches, providing greater exposure for the sport and its players.


The Women's World Cup has seen tremendous growth in recent years, both in terms of the quality of play on the field and the commercial opportunities it presents for the football business. The 2019 edition of the tournament, which was held in France, drew record TV ratings and generated significant interest from sponsors and advertisers. This has led many experts to predict that the 2023 tournament could be even more successful.

The FIFA Women's World Cup is scheduled to take place in 2023, with Australia and New Zealand serving as the hosts. This will mark the first time that the tournament is hosted by two countries simultaneously. The competition will feature 32 teams from around the world, and is expected to draw a global audience of millions of viewers.


For football businesses, the Women's World Cup represents a unique opportunity to reach a global audience and engage with fans in new and innovative ways. Companies that are involved in the production and distribution of football content, such as broadcasters and streaming services, are likely to see a significant increase in viewership during the tournament. Additionally, sponsors and advertisers will be looking to capitalize on the increased exposure that the tournament provides, with many companies expected to invest heavily in marketing campaigns that target women's football fans.

Overall, the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup has the potential to be a game-changer for the football business, providing a platform for growth and innovation in the years to come. As interest in women's football continues to grow around the world, businesses that are able to leverage the unique opportunities presented by the Women's World Cup are likely to see significant returns on their investment.


The growth of women's football is a positive trend that benefits both the industry and society as a whole. Women's football is becoming a profitable business, with potential revenue streams for clubs and organizations. It is also having a positive impact on the overall football industry, challenging gender stereotypes and promoting diversity and inclusion.

Investing in women's football is not only a smart business decision but also a socially responsible one. It provides opportunities for women and girls to participate in sport and promotes gender equality. As the sport continues to grow, it is essential that we support and promote women's football to ensure its success in the long term.



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