FIFA don’t seem concerned about the lack of capacity crowds at the Women’s World Cup in France, but not being able to build on the record attendances witnessed in Canada four years ago, amounts to a failure by the game’s governing body.
They had said before the tournament that only a few tickets remained unsold, but only 14 of the 52 games have actually sold out. In 2015, record attendances totalled 1,353,506, and in the United States in 1999, the highest average crowd was 37,319, with more than 90,000 watching the final.
Both records could still be broken this summer, but FIFA’s optimistic pre-tournament predictions do not hide the fact that many group games have attracted far smaller crowds than anticipated, including England’s clash with Scotland in Nice.
According to those in attendance, there was no obvious sign of promotion of the tournament in the popular French resort, with very few tickets sold to local families. There are also few games being shown live on terrestrial TV in France, which raises eyebrows about how much the country is embracing the competition.
FIFA are also not helping with the social media promotions. Despite billing the England v Scotland game as a near sell-out in the build-up, only 13,188 turned up to watch England win 2-1 in a stadium that holds 35,000.
Other disappointing crowds have been seen at Norway vs Nigeria (11,058), Spain vs South Africa (12,044), Canada vs Cameroon (10,710) and Holland vs New Zealand (10,654).
Even though stadiums have been filled to only around 60 per cent of their total capacity, FIFA have said they are happy with the numbers who have attended and wanted to stress that this is the first time the tournament has staggered games over separate days rather than played two fixtures at the same venue on the same day.
The fact that games at the Women’s World Cup are not selling out only reinforces why there is a ‘disparity’ in the prize money between the men’s and women’s tournament, something that the USA’s Hope Solo was campaigning about in the build up to the competition.
Until similar crowds are being witnessed at both the Men’s and Women’s World Cup’s then prize money cannot be the same. Games at the Men’s World Cup sell out month’s in advance with billions watching on TV’s around the globe, bringing in huge sums of money through advertising and marketing.
The money that is generated for FIFA should be used to promote and help women’s football, which it is definitely doing, but the cash being generated by men’s football can’t just simply be given to the women.
Until FIFA and those responsible for marketing women’s football can do more to get crowds in to watch, this ‘disparity’ should remain. It is only fair.