Women’s football saw a huge surge of interest following the World Cup in 2019. However, 2020 is more important – it’s about trying to keep that interest alive.
Megan Rapinoe and the rest of the United States national team have done wonders for the profile of the women’s game. But, it will need more than that to keep interest piqued in 2020.
It will not be easy but there are several ways to keep women’s football in the public eye.
Good Coverage of the Olympics
The Olympic football tournament is unlike any other footballing competition.
Men are limited to have just three players over the age of 23 in their squad. The women’s competition has no such limitation. It may not be on the level of the World Cup, but the Olympics is still a serious tournament.Embed from Getty Images
It is paramount that the tournament is covered well on television – and online. It needs to be sold the same way as the World Cup was and it is important that it is not lost amongst all the other sports happening at the Olympics in Tokyo.
The United States have won four of the first six Olympic competitions but with Germany taking the crown in 2016 and the U.S. finishing outside of the top four, anything could happen.
Plus, as we are well aware, the quality of women’s football has come on leaps and bounds. Specifically in the last four years.
Take the FA Cup seriouslyEmbed from Getty Images
In 2012, Sky Sports cut away from the women’s FA Cup final on the verge of penalties – in order to show build-up to a play-off final match.
A final that saw Rachel Williams and Karen Carney score as Birmingham City beat Chelsea 3-2 on penalties.
In 2020, the FA Cup should be given the same kind of treatment that the men’s competition has. As many games as possible should be broadcast with the final on terrestrial television. No interruptions. No caveats.
The drama and excitement are still there for the women’s FA Cup, too. West Ham miraculously made the final last season in a wondrous culmination of their first season as a professional team.Embed from Getty Images
There were 293 teams that competed in last season’s FA Cup, with the final being played in front of a crowd of more than 43,000 – nearly 10 times the attendance of the 2013 final, which had 4,988 people watching Arsenal win 3-0 against Bristol.
Ellen White and Steph Houghton both scored for the Gunners in that game. The magic of the FA Cup is alive, in every version of the competition.
Get the Women’s Super League on TV
We already have a limited amount of WSL action on the BBC. They produce the usually fantastic Women’s Football Show every matchweek.
It needs to have more prominence than being on at 23:35, as this Sunday’s edition is.Embed from Getty Images
There’s also BT Sport broadcasting the odd game here and there. It simply isn’t enough. The potential is there for a different broadcaster to step in and make the WSL one of the best properties in the footballing world. So it’s not getting less coverage than the Vanarama National League.
The FA Player is a fantastic resource and allows for everyone to watch all of the games every weekend but it’s just not the same as an ITV, BBC or Sky or BT putting two games a weekend on their schedule.
A split package could work too, even if it sees ITV4 broadcast a game a week whilst BT keeps their one a week. We need to make progress.
At the end of the day, it is all well and good having incredible and polarising personalities off the pitch but women’s football is in serious need of trust from big corporations – and the general public.