The First FIFA World Cup 'Down Under'
The FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 in Australia and New Zealand has come at an incredibly important time for women’s football.
Following the great success of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019 in France, continental competitions such as the CONCACAF Women’s Championship, Copa America Femenina and most notably the UEFA Women’s European Championship, have generated unprecedented amounts of interest in women’s football from fans, brands and broadcasters around the world.
These recent successes mean that, for the first time ever, the women’s game found itself in a position of strength going into a FIFA Women’s World Cup.
As New Zealand kicked off the latest edition of the iconic tournament on Thursday, July 20, history was made - with it being the first edition to be hosted in more than one country, as well as being the first FIFA World Cup, men’s or women’s, to be hosted on the continent of Oceania.
With plenty of star talent and impressive football being played on the pitch - we take a closer look at some of the key figures and insights off the pitch as we celebrate the first festival of football ‘down under’.
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.
Other major tournaments in women’s football, such as the UEFA Women’s Champions League, have proved to attract key fan segments such as household decision makers, as well as a young and engaged audience.
Global Web Index’s (GWI) recent survey shows that fans with an interest in the FIFA Women’s World Cup should also be a key target audience for many brands, with the tournament attracting a young audience with an above average level of education.
Crucially for brands, the survey also shows that these fans are not just young, with the largest portion of fans (27%) aged between 25-34, they also have a strong income. In fact, 77% of fans with an interest in the FIFA Women’s World Cup have a high or medium income.
Outside of their interest for women’s football, the fans have several other key interests, with Music (65% of fans), Cooking (60%), Technology (58%) and Travel (56%) all being popular pastimes amongst fans who follow the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
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
Source: Global Web Index
One of the biggest knock-on effects of the growing fandom in women’s football has been the increased visibility and reach of the game through televised matches.
Historically, most of the broadcasting rights for major women’s football tournaments, both at international and club level, have been valued at a fraction of the men’s game, with most rights bundled together with men’s competitions.
The recent successes of major women’s football tournaments have changed this position, with the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 being a prime example of this. The tournament is the first time that the women’s edition of the FIFA World Cup hasn't been bundled together with the men’s edition.
This decision was part of FIFA’s ground-breaking overhaul of the whole commercial structure of the Women’s World Cup. In addition to separate broadcasting rights, this move also saw brands being allowed to become exclusive partners for the women’s tournament for the first time, as well as FIFA choosing to increase the tournament’s prize money to $152 million, triple the amount paid for the 2019 edition and 10 times more than the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2015.
FIFA’s overhaul has not been without its challenges, most notably with European broadcasters, as the governing body’s negotiations with the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) encountered stumbling blocks in relation to the value of the media rights for the tournament.
Having overcome these challenges, the tournament is now set to become the most lucrative FIFA Women’s World Cup in regards to broadcasting revenue, as it aims to reach even more viewers than the 1.1 billion audience for the FIFA World Cup 2019.
FIFA have historically followed a three-tier sponsorship approach, consisting of Partners, Sponsors and Supporters, with Partners being the top-level sponsor. In the past, sponsoring rights, across all levels, would cover both the men’s and women’s tournaments, but the new commercial structure has allowed for brands to specifically sponsor each tournament separately.
This revamped structure is a great move for brands and women’s football as a whole, allowing brands to tap into the game’s unique audience as well as safeguarding the financial future of the sport.
Looking to explore the niche women’s football audience, a number of major brands have signed sponsorship deals with FIFA ahead of the tournament. Financial services giant Visa was the first brand to make use of the new structure, before being joined by New Zealand-based accounting software firm Xero, as FIFA’s first two ‘Women’s Football Partners’.
Long-term FIFA partners Adidas, Coca-Cola and Chinese property conglomerate Wanda, are also partners of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023.
Elsewhere, the likes of American brewer Budweiser, Argentina-based software company Globant, fast-food giant McDonalds and Unilver’s personal care brands, Rexona, Dove, Lifebuoy and Lux have also joined as official sponsors of the tournament.
FIFA Women's World Cup 2023 - Partners and Sponsors
Looking To The Future
Throughout this insight we’ve covered some of the key elements behind women’s football’s rapid growth and what it might mean for the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 in Australia and New Zealand.
As exciting as the tournament itself is, perhaps the most exciting part is that once the final kick of the ball has been made in Sydney, it will merely mark the beginning of the next chapter of the women’s game.
Looking back to the last three FIFA Women’s World Cups, it’s staggering to see how much the sport has grown over the past 12 years.
Sports Business reported that the 2011 FIFA World Cup in Germany brought in a global viewership of 556 million, whilst the following edition in Canada saw an increase to 764 million, before the tournament finally broke the 1 billion mark in France, 2019, with 1.1 billion viewers.
Although factors such as equality, opportunities, facilities and pay will naturally weigh a lot heavier than viewership figures in how the the overall success of women’s football is perceived, the unmistakably growing audience, coupled with investment from some of the world's biggest brands will only help propel the women’s game to the very top of the sporting pyramid.