The problem of spectators continues in women’s football | 24 . pulse

In football, women lag behind their male colleagues not only in terms of wages, but also in terms of spectators.

With major events, skillfully orchestrated by FIFA, UEFA and their partners, relatively few people are still motivated to perform in national tournaments. The majority of people who attend stadiums or watch TV broadcasts are men. Women are still underrepresented as football fans.


The fact that there is a gender gap in sports enthusiasm is not new in sports sociology. It is true that women are catching up with men more and more when it comes to active sports, to which it is possible that the coronavirus lockdowns have also contributed significantly. When it comes to passive consumption of esports, the difference is still enormous. Therefore, it can be said with certainty that the first-class sport that is conveyed by the media is of primary interest to men.


Hardly any data


Strong data on women’s football is already scattered internationally, but nationally in Austria, the material is thinner. According to a relatively recent Nielsen study (“Women’s Soccer 2019”), 62 percent of all soccer fans are men and 38 percent are women. Accordingly, 54 percent of women’s soccer fans are male.

This slight weight gain is also reflected in a quick survey of clubs in the Austrian Women’s League. The estimate was that 60 per cent of the audience in football stadiums were often men. There are no specific numbers as data is not collected by gender. Of course, the total number is quite manageable, because hardly more than 500 people attend a match in the German League. Women’s national team games attract a low audience of four numbers at the most.

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Big fluctuations in TV ratings


Television interest in gaming fluctuates wildly. The highlight was the 2017 European Cup in the Netherlands, when the Austrians qualified for the semi-finals. There they lost to Denmark on penalties, which was followed by an average of 1.19 million viewers on ORF. Only the quarter-final shootout against Spain, which was successful from an Austrian perspective, had a wider reach with an average of 1.21 million people in front of a TV set.

On the other hand, the last encounter against Belgium in preparation for the European Nations Cup in England, was watched by about a million fewer people. About 100,000 people watched the first half on ORF 1, and 120,000 in the second. The test against Denmark in mid-June was watched by only 73,000 spectators in the second half. The fact that women’s football attracts more men than women also applies to ORF broadcasts. The proportion of male spectators is higher in women’s matches than in men’s matches on the field.


However, these facts can be observed globally. Big events are a short break from reality, in the league comparison there is a contrast with men’s games in almost all countries. For matches in the Women’s Bundesliga, Women’s Premier League or La Liga, the average number of spectators is around 1,000.


UEFA Champions League semi-finals


The exceptional circumstances also paved the way for the world record record 91648 that came to the Camp Nou for the semi-final match of the UEFA Women’s Champions League between FC Barcelona and VfL Wolfsburg on April 22. First, the club and UEFA threw their combined marketing power into the fray in the knockout stage of the tournament. Club members can purchase tickets almost free of charge – regardless of the processing fee. On the other hand, Barcelona is actually more than a club, it’s something like the pride of what its nation looks like. Barcelona also built a strong fan base for the women’s division early on. The average viewership in Spain is around 3,000, which is nearly double that of second-placed Atl├ętico.

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Even in the United States, which has been highly praised for women’s football, the size of the spectators is much lower than that of the men. The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) has a total of 7,300 this season, while the MLS is currently around 20,000 per game.

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