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Womens football statistics - female football facts

The stats, facts and figures which show how women’s football is growing all over the world.

women's football statistics

There’s no doubt that women’s football is on the rise. 

Over the past 12 months, more people than ever have been attending matches and watching on the telly, while replica football shirts have broken all kinds of sales records. More importantly, there’s been a huge spike in the number of women and girls actually getting out there and playing all over the world. 

Since we’re such huge fans of the women’s game ourselves, we wanted to dive into the details of its continuous surge in popularity. In April 2020, we decided to conduct our own study on how perceptions surrounding the sport have changed, while also compiling some of the latest women’s football statistics and facts.

From our findings, you’ll see that the future of the game has never looked brighter. 

The Current Perception of Women’s Football

By conducting our own original research, we wanted to find out how people currently view women’s football in the UK - and how they compare it to the men’s game. So, FOOTY.COM carried out a survey of 1000 people, including football fans of all ages, genders and backgrounds, located all over the country. 

The results found that, while more popular are now watching it, women’s football still has some way to go to bridge that gap.

infographic containing stats about the perception of womens football

According to our data, people are 6 times more likely to watch a game of men’s football than women’s, thanks largely to the lucrative television packages which give the men much more screen time. While coverage of the women’s game is continuing to improve, there’s no question that men’s football still takes the lion’s share and is generally much easier to consume. 

This is despite the fact that well over half of respondents believe that both sports are just as good as each other, although just 6% stated that they actually prefer the women’s game. In fact, just 10% of men claim they watch women’s football regularly, with 38% of all respondents also believing that the men’s game is far superior.

However, women’s football has become increasingly popular with fans under the age of 35, signalling a bright future in which many of these perceptions could change. Younger fans are now growing up with a thriving women’s sport, and we believe that attendances and TV viewing figures are only going one way. Up. 

Women’s Football Facts - Global Figures

The growth of women’s football has been absolutely staggering over the past 12 months. The 2019 Women’s World Cup (WWC) had an absolutely enormous impact, with more than 1 billion people tuning in to watch that summer’s tournament. Unsurprisingly, these figures completely smashed the records - there were 400 million more views than the previous 2015 tournament. 

As to the Final itself (between USA and the Netherlands), this brought in an average audience of 82.18 million people, an improvement of more than 50% on the last World Cup Final. Perhaps most impressively, the average live TV audience (17.27 million) was more than double the previous tournament! 

These record viewing figures tie in with our other women’s football facts, pointing to one very important thing: this sport is here to stay. 

infographic displaying global womens football facts

Last year saw a huge spike in the number of people actually attending games, peaking with a whopping 60,739 watching Barcelona’s 2-1 victory over Atletico Madrid at the Wanda Metropolitano. Huge crowds were also seen at Juventus, Manchester City and other European giants, as the game continues to grow across the continent. 

Women’s football has grown particularly quickly in Germany, Sweden, Netherlands, France and Norway, who join USA and Canada in having over 100,000 registered players. The same is also true of England, with even more women and girls starting to play following their run to the World Cup semi-finals (more details below). 

Despite such enormous growth, the money involved with women’s football pales in comparison to the men’s game. Global transfer spending came to approximately £530,000 throughout the whole of 2019, which might just about cover Lionel Messi’s weekly wages. Although this is an increase of 16.3% compared to last year, spending in the men’s game just fell shy of £6 billion. Yikes, that’s a lot of money. 

Even though the number of female football coaches and officials are continuing to grow, this is still very much an industry dominated by men. There are currently more than 63,000 qualified female coaches, but this makes up just 7% of coaches around the world, with men obviously making up the remaining 93%. 

There are also over 80,000 female referees, which makes up 10% of all referees (there are more than 800,000 overall). Although we’re starting to see female matchday officials throughout both men’s and women’s football, there’s still a long way to go before that gap is firmly closed - even if progress is certainly being made. 

Women’s Football Statistics - UK Figures

Women’s football in the UK is also continuing to grow, with statistics showing a huge surge in popularity following the 2019 WWC. Not only did over 11 million people watch the Lionesses lose to the USA in the semi-finals (almost triple the audience of their semi in 2015), but that glorious tournament has also inspired more people to get out and play. 

infographic displaying uk womens football stats

Dovetailing with the FA’s commitment to grow women’s football in the UK, the tournament has inspired around 2.7 million women (over the age of 16) to play football all over the country. Just as importantly, younger girls have now got an even better opportunity to get involved, with an impressive 42% increase in Wildcats centres since the start of 2019.

This comes as part of the FA’s “Gameplan for Growth”, an ambitious 4-year strategy aimed at doubling participation in women’s football. Introduced in 2017, the detailed plan is focused on increasing the number of fans, changing perceptions and building a successful system. 

We want women and girls from all over the country, from whatever background, to play, coach, referee and sit in boardrooms. This means not only providing these opportunities, but communicating them positively and highlighting all the benefits -professional and personal - that our national game can bring.

- Baroness Sue Campbell, FA Director of Women’s Football

The introduction of 1200 Wildcats centres means more than 30,000 girls now have the opportunity to get out there and play football. There are now almost 12,000 registered teams (which is the FA’s target), while a staggering 77,768 watched England lose to Germany at Wembley in November of last year. 

In fact, the average Women’s Super League attendance have been four times higher this season, with an impressive 31,000 fans flocking to the Etihad for the first women’s Manchester derby. The record for a women’s match in England was the 2012 Olympics Final, with Wembley packed out with 80,203 people, but club attendances are now certainly going in the right direction.

That being said, the money in the WSL doesn’t come close to the Premier League. This season, the average salary for a Women’s Super League player is around £27,000 a year, while those in the Premier League average somewhere in the region of £3 million. In a single week, a Premier League player will earn more than double what WSL players earn in an entire year.

Where is Women’s Football Most Popular?

All over the world, women’s football has really taken off in the past few years. However, it’s certainly become much bigger in some countries than others, so we wanted to find out where exactly women’s football is most popular. According to our research, the sport is almost twice as popular in the Netherlands as anywhere else on the planet!

infographic showing popularity of womens football across the world

Using Google Trends data from the last five years (1st April 2015-1st April 2020), we looked at where the most online searches for women’s football came from. We only looked at regions with high search volumes, to ensure the data was as accurate as possible, and then used this information to give each country a score out of 10. 

Relative to their population and the total number of searches in that location, the Netherlands came out as runaway leaders ahead of Vietnam, France and Sweden. Dutch interest peaked massively in the summer of 2019, with the Netherlands getting all the way to the World Cup Final and eventually losing to USA - who are fifth in our rankings. 

The likes of Germany, Japan and Portugal also have plenty of searches on women’s football, suggesting that these are the parts of the world where the sport is most popular. As for the UK, they ranked down in 17th with a score of 2.4, just a few places behind Canada - who were surprisingly low down given their huge number of registered players. 

In every other corner of the world, though, women’s football is becoming bigger, better and bringing entire communities together. Here at FOOTY.COM, we can’t wait to see what the exciting future holds. 

Ben Hyde

Rubbish FIFA player with an addiction to buying football shirts which are way too cool for me.