Call it the latest multi-million dollar reason to invest in women’s sports.
European football’s governing body, UEFA, recently released a groundbreaking report that outlines the off-pitch potential of European women’s football – and the numbers are impressive. This is important for women’s soccer around the world as it continues to enjoy record success in the United States and around the world, and as the sport as a whole prepares to take center stage at the FIFA World Cup. men’s world later this year.
The 59-page report defines the value of women’s football based on four key elements: fan and community engagement; commercial activity; image; and the sport itself. The results are plentiful, but there are a few key takeaways.
The women’s football fan base is expected to grow from 144 million existing fans to potentially 328 million fans by 2033, the report predicts. Women’s football is also attracting a new type of fan, with one in three women’s football fans new to the sport in general. That skyrocketing popularity was summed up in this year’s UEFA Women’s EURO Championship game, when a record crowd of 87,192 watched England beat Germany at Wembley Stadium last month.
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Most impressive, however, is that the report predicts that the commercial value of the sport could increase sixfold over the next decade, reaching an annual value of €686 million by 2033. The Value of Club Sponsorship should also be multiplied by six. to 295 million euros by 2033.
This report is the result of UEFA’s Time for Action campaign, which is the governing body’s strategy for women’s football. The strategy launched in 2019 aimed to double the number of female players in Europe by 2024. Since then, the growth has been astronomical.
It proves that by investing thoughtfully in the sport, growth and business success will follow.
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Here in the United States, the valuation of National Women’s Soccer League teams continues to grow. New Jersey-based Gotham FC wowed the professional sports world recently when Sportico announced the team was invested at $40 million – at the time considered one of the most expensive teams in the league. The team has seen record investments from iconic sports names, including former stars of multiple sports, such as Carli Lloyd, Sue Bird, Kevin Durant and Eli Manning. Angel City FC’s valuation has since been reported to exceed $100 million, setting the team in a league of their own and raising the bar for existing and potentially new teams in the NWSL.
Having healthy competition overseas improves the game, tactically and commercially. This is especially the case when you have players who have the luxury of choosing between European and American leagues.
UEFA’s report concludes with five key actions for leagues, clubs and partners to develop the women’s game – from developing concrete strategies and business plans to improving standards and professionalism in the game off the field. He also advises stakeholders to “build on the unique strengths of women’s football”.
These suggestions could very easily be followed by stakeholders wherever women’s football is played.
Women & Sports is a NorthJersey.com column devoted to female athletes from the recreational league level to those of college and pro. If you have any advice on a North Jersey athlete that should be noted in the column, regardless of age or youth, please message me at [email protected]