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The Global Growth of Women’s Football

Women’s football is now one of the fastest-growing sports in the world and it is regularly referred to in terms of its global growth potential.

With records for sponsorship deals, matchday attendances and audience figures all increasing the spread of women’s football has the attraction to women’s football is according to business analysts impacting upon on communities across the globe.

173% of leagues have regulations limiting the number of foreign players allowed per club, whilst 37% of leagues have home-grown player quotas. These regulations attempt to ensure that domestic players do not have their development opportunities restricted by an influx of foreign talent. However, having foreign talent gives domestic players the opportunity to compete against international players outside of national team matches, often raising the standard of the league. Thus the international flow or migration of women players from country, a potential key indicator of global flow is increasingly growing within the women;’s professional game.

International transfer fees in professional women’s football hit a new record of USD 2.1m in 2021, an increase of 73% on 2020. Despite this growth, it should be noted that the five largest transfers paid in 2021 accounted for almost 60% of total spending, and only 4.4% of professional transfers involved the payment of a fee.

The impact of women’s football and women footballing activists cannot be overstated, with news reports on the growth of women’s football adding another foothold in the progression of gender equality in sport, not to mention across wider society.

Commercially there is still much value to be developed. In celebrating the growth of women’s football, it is also important to underline the commercial returns still being made. It is a myth to state that women’s football is not commercially attractive.

But according to the Deloitte business group globally the women’s game remains in a loss-making state and requires sustained investment both on and off the pitch to facilitate further development.

The upshot of this is that by working together with FIFA, and other international stakeholders and investors our clear-cut commercial opportunities that will come with professionalising the women’s game.

The second FIFA women’s benchmarking report evidences the financial value to be generated by initiatives such as establishing written strategies, hiring technical and multidisciplinary team staff and developing season ticket offerings.

There is evident commitment from stakeholders across the world to professionalise women’s football. Now is the time for clubs to concentrate on investing for future growth and to work towards becoming financially self-sufficient in the long term.

In turn, this will improve inclusion across the industry and draw more women in to lead men’s and women’s teams on and off the pitch.

Football More Than a Game In many parts of the world women’s football is more than a game.

To understand how football is regarded as a driver for social change consider the title of Japan’s women’s professional division: the Women’s Empowerment League, or WE League for short.

At the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup Japan were TM champions. Japan has a rich history in women’s football. A decade later, in September 2021, the WE League – Japan’s first fully professional women’s football division – was born, which marked a new era in the women’s game.

On the pitch, the WE League aims to become one of the strongest women’s football leagues in the world. The WE League’s mission is to promote an inclusive society, filled with diverse dreams and ways of living, where individuals can shine thanks to the power of women’s football. It also has ambitions to become a driving force for gender-equality in Japan.

Football is more than a Game but an enabler of change.

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Football: More than a Game

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