I thought it is time to pay tribute to the continued growth and success of women’s soccer. It is not too long ago that young girls had to play on mixed teams and once they became teenagers there were very few options. There were no women’s teams at the professional, college, or amateur levels. No Women’s World Cup, Euro, or Olympic soccer.
So here are some statistics about women’s soccer today.
The women’s FIFA world cup started in China in 1991. Average attendance was 19,615 and the final game drew a spectacular crowd of 65,000 fans. The ensuing world cups were also successful, average attendance in brackets:
- Sweden 1995 (4,316)
- USA 1999 (37,319) – Final 90,185
- USA 2003 (21,239)
- China 2007 (31,169)
- Germany 2011 (26,428)
- Canada 2015 (25,664) – opening game 53,058
Around the globe there are now professional women’s leagues in over 70 countries. This provides a development path for young aspiring soccer players that never existed before. Attendance at professional league games still has room to grow. It will take some time until the excitement from major tournaments or national cup finals takes a foothold. Here are some leagues with approximate average attendances:
- USA (3,000)
- Germany (1,500)
- England (1,000)
- Sweden (1,000)
- France (500)
- Italy (500)
From my own experience as youth and university women’s team coach I encourage everyone to attend games. The pace is slower than the men’s version and that is often misinterpreted as a lower level of soccer. That couldn’t be more wrong. The competition is just as intense, emotions run just as high, the desire to win is second to none. The slower pace in many ways allows the demonstration of skills and tactics more so than in a high paced game. You can see plays develop and techniques being used without the harsh pressure of the men’s game. So for students of the game it is definitely worth watching high level women’s soccer.
Let’s hope the success story continues and that there will be attendances in the 20,000s in a few years.