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Study: 72% of soccer fans say interest in women’s game has grown

72% of surveyed fans support players boycotting 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

9 February 2022 Rory Jones

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  • Reducing prize gap between men’s and women’s soccer competitions has major support
  • 500 soccer fans surveyed, 98% in 14 to 34 age bracket, 70% from the UK

A new study led by soccer publication Versus has revealed that 72 per cent of soccer fans have seen their interest in the women’s game increase over the last year.

Versus surveyed 500 soccer fans, 98 per cent of whom are aged 14 to 34, and 51 per cent from black or ethnic minority backgrounds. The majority of respondents (70 per cent) were UK-based, with the remainder coming from the rest of the world.

Topics covered the growth of women’s soccer, the Fifa World Cup in Qatar, club attitudes towards sustainability, cryptocurrency, and the representation of minority ethnic groups.

More than three quarters (78 per cent) of respondents said it was important to reduce the prize gap between men’s and women’s soccer, and 92 per cent want to see more women working in the sport.

With the 2022 World Cup in Qatar starting in November, 72 per cent of those surveyed said that they would support players who chose to boycott the tournament, while 85 per cent said players should take advantage of their platforms to protest the host country’s human rights record.

The study also found that 66 per cent of fans think that Qatar’s human rights controversies will impact their enjoyment of the 2022 World Cup.

On sustainability, 88 per cent said they found new club kit releases each season exciting, while 68 per cent said that they would like to see their team follow Brentford in extending the kit cycle.

Despite the growing presence of blockchain brands in soccer, 71 per cent say that they still do not understand non-fungible tokens (NFTs), with 56 per cent still not fully understanding cryptocurrency.

The same percentage also think it is inappropriate for cryptocurrency brands to sign shirt sponsorship deals.

When it came to soccer’s relationship with social causes, as many as 88 per cent of those surveyed do not think soccer authorities are capable of tackling racism.

“From a commercial standpoint, investing in the women’s game is more lucrative than ever,” said Amie Cripps, women’s soccer editor at Versus.

“85,000 tickets were sold this month for the first [Uefa Women’s Champions League] El Clásico match. Spending on transfer fees in women’s professional football increased by 72.8 per cent between 2020 and 2021 [from US$1.2 million to US$2.1 million].

“Global brands like Pepsi, Adidas and eBay are using female players to front campaigns in recognition of their ‘reach’. But now isn’t the time to slow down. Leveraging the current success of women’s football can help to bring about long-term change.”

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