Women’s Football: How digitalisation is growing the sport

USWNT watch party
USWNT supporters gathered in strength at the World Trade Center in New York on 7 July 2019 for an outdoor watch party of the FIFA Women's World Cup final. (Photo by G. Ronald Lopez)

Digitalisation of women’s football has played a pivotal role in raising the game and the players’ profiles. Through digitalisation, the sport is able to address wider challenges facing women. It also enables female footballers to positively shift perceptions as global citizens. Including the promotion of multi-cultural efforts to shape beliefs.

Women’s football has been able to highlight the varying levels of women’s equality globally – on and off the pitch through digitalisation.

As an example off the pitch, Sahar Khodayari – an Iranian woman – set herself on fire after finding out that she could face imprisonment for attempting to attend a football match. Lewes FC have raised awareness of the ‘Women’s Rights are Human Rights’ campaign, commemorating Sahar’s life with a blue scarf, allowing the story to be shared through digitalisation.

Until recently, there has been little interest shown in women’s football by mainstream media coverage (Al Khalifa and Farello, 2020). Digitialisation of women’s football, “would contribute to legitimising women’s achievements and advancing public acceptance” (Al Khalifa and Farello, 2020).

There is a correlation between participation in sport and digital endorsements of female role models – resulting in wider projections of social acceptance of women’s engagement in all areas of society.

Role of social media

Social media has played a huge role in popularising women’s football by creating modern platforms to tell timeless stories. Such platforms work as an outlet to address uncomfortable and unspoken barriers through the sport.

The intimate nature of social media allows women and young girls to see their participation in football as a norm rather than an exception. Trends on social media highlight the efforts to connect with audiences directly – especially during the pandemic’s lockdown.

The role of social media is a modern tool to create hope in uncertain times or challenging circumstances. Equally, promoting inclusion within women’s football.

Social media and digitalisation of sport allows audiences of all backgrounds, race and gender an opportunity for inclusion. Digitalisation is becoming a key feature to promote participation and allow fans to follow their favourite team, player or cheer them on virtually during a game.

Digitalisation accelerates shifting perceptions of who a global citizen is, giving women’s football a platform to share their narratives.

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