Football With a Purpose
Large scale world sporting events will undoubtedly be seen as one of humanity’s greatest achievements. Hundreds and sometimes thousands of athletes compete on the world’s biggest stage as millions, even billions, of people simultaneously stop, watch and soak in sporting excellence.
World sporting events, such as the FIFA World Cup and the Olympics, continue to amass more viewers, better athletes and even more unforgettable sporting moments as each edition passes. However, the latest world sporting event to take the global stage, the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023, had an even greater purpose on its agenda: equal opportunities.
Wanting to build on the growing momentum of women’s football following the successes of continental competitions such as the UEFA Women’s European Championship, the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 in Australia and New Zealand saw the highest level of prize, broadcasting and sponsorship money of any women’s edition of the tournament.
The true impact of the competition’s powerful purpose will only be known in the years to come, but there are already clear signs of its positive impact on the women’s game.
In this feature, we explore some of the early signs of how crucial the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 will be to not just the women’s game, but football as a whole.
On the Pitch
The first ever FIFA World Cup, men’s or women’s, to be played ‘Down Under’ produced entertainment, drama and competitiveness.
The latter is perhaps one of the most important aspects to underline as there was some controversy ahead of the 2023 edition of the tournament, when FIFA decided to expand to 32 nations from the previous 24.
This expansion saw eight nations make their debut on the world stage, with Jamaica and Morocco impressing further by reaching the round of 16.
Despite the introduction of more nations, with lower FIFA rankings, the group stages saw a decrease in goal difference between the teams compared to the 2019 edition, with fewer large score lines. For instance, 7-0 (Netherlands - Vietnam) was the tournament's biggest goal difference, compared to 13-0 (USA - Thailand) in 2019.
As has come to be expected of FIFA World Cups, there was plenty of drama on show as six red cards were handed out, a new tournament record. Elsewhere, new records were also set for penalties with 27 awarded throughout as well as the longest penalty shootout in the tournament’s history after Australia beat France in an epic 20-penalty thriller.
The FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 also saw a new winner being crowned for the first time since Japan’s win in 2011, as Spain became only the fifth nation to lift the trophy.
... we generated the second highest income of any sport, besides of course the men's World Cup, at a global stage.
Gianni Infantino - FIFA president
A First Look at the Statistics
Much of the data and statistics surrounding the ninth edition of the FIFA Women’s World Cup is yet to be published, with FIFA typically producing a global broadcast and audience report in the months following the tournament.
However, first impressions from down under have been incredibly promising, with the BBC reporting attendance figures of 1.85m fans in the stadiums before the final between England and Spain and the third place play-off between Australia and Sweden took the overall attendance total to 1.98m
These figures have smashed previous attendance records for the tournament which previously stood at 1.35m, set during the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015 in Canada.
Early signs are that broadcasting figures will follow a similar trajectory as the fans around the world have enjoyed seeing a more open competition than previous editions, with all but one (Japan) of the previous four winners being knocked out before the quarter-final stage.
Co-hosts Australia have seen particularly impressive viewership figures throughout the tournament, with the BBC reporting that their semi-final against England became the most watched television programme of any genre in the country’s history, reaching 11.15 Australians, 42% of the population.
On the financial front, FIFA president Gianni Infantino announced that the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 generated over $570m in revenues, saying “... we generated the second highest income of any sport, besides of course the men's World Cup, at a global stage.”
Total in-stadium fan attendance
+ 0 %
Of Australian population watched Australia - England
$ 0 m
The FIFA Women's World Cup 2023 in numbers
Football without fans is nothing and one of the greatest aspects of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 were the millions of fans who had travelled from around the globe to watch the biggest football event of the year. Although the full extent of the tournament’s broadcasting figures haven’t been published yet, the staggering new record of 1.98m fans attending in the stadium shows just how much support there is for the women’s game.
Whilst much research has been done into understanding fans of men’s football, women’s football’s recent and rapid growth has left many key stakeholders within the sporting world without a clear understanding of who the fans of the women’s game are.
As fandom surrounding women’s football continues to grow, gaining this understanding will be crucial for organisations looking to utilise the upward trajectory of the sport and boost their brands.
Of fans of the FIFA Women's World Cup 2023 are women
Of fans of the FIFA Women's World Cup 2023 are high or medium income earners
The average age of fans of the FIFA Women's World Cup 2023
The FIFA Women’s World Cup at SPORTFIVE
With Oceania being the last remaining continent to not have hosted a FIFA World Cup (not counting the rather chilly Antarctica) before this summer, it was only a matter of time before football’s biggest competition was hosted there.
And with football being the 'world’s game’, the decision was long overdue, but understandably it also came with certain time-zone difficulties for people living in the northern hemisphere with many games played in the mornings instead of the traditional afternoons or evenings.
As serious sports lovers, this was more of an opportunity than a difficulty for those of us working in a northern hemisphere SPORTFIVE office. Whilst our colleagues in Australia got to soak up the atmosphere live, offices from London to Hamburg and New York to Paris hosted Watch Parties to cheer on their respective teams.