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The women’s game is gradually being given the attention and financial backing that it fully deserves, with ticket promotions and new broadcasting deals going a long way to raising the profile of the game. Of course, the best way to get crowds into stadiums is to put on a top-class showcase of the sport, which growing attendance figures clearly suggest is happening.
This is especially true in the European domestic game’s top competition, the UEFA Women’s Champions League, which saw attendance records once held by international matches smashed in 2022.
The bar set by the men's game
While the funding and exposure aren’t anywhere near reaching a point of parity yet, looking into the attendance figures of men’s football does offer the scope for further growth in the women’s game as many are played in the same stadiums. In both lines of football, however, Champions League figures are essentially capped by the stadiums chosen for the finals.
Last year, two European heavyweights met in the final – Liverpool and Real Madrid – were tipped a long way out to be two of the frontrunners and likely will be again in the Champions League betting next season, but the Stade de France caps out at 75,000.
While this is dwarfed by the record-setting attendances at the quarter and semi-final showings at Camp Nou in the UWCL, Barcelona’s home stadium can host 99,354 fans. That said, last season’s highest home attendance for the men’s team at Camp Nou was 86,422 for El Clásico. So, as you'll see, when the big matches come around, the women's game can go toe to toe with the men's teams.
New attendance record for women’s football
Coming into 2022, the world-record attendance for a women’s football game stood at 90,185, which saw the US Women’s National Team take on China at the Rose Bowl in California. Just behind stood two Wembley Stadium throw-downs, with 80,203 showing up for USWNT vs Japan in 2012 and 77,768 cheering on an age-old rivalry in England vs Germany.
This past season, however, dominant domestic team Barcelona have battered their way to the top of the attendance charts. First, in the UWCL quarter-final, they beat their rivals, Real Madrid, in front of 91,553 spectators. Next, it was on to the semi-finals, with the Spanish giants drawing the conquerors of Arsenal, VfL Wolfsburg.
In a thunderous first leg, Camp Nou saw a 5-1 scoreline and another record attendance. As Goal reports here, the game drew in 91,648 fans. The massive result even allowed them to stave off a daunting trip to the Wolves’ den, which went down as a 2-0 win for the home side. Barcelona didn’t manage to bring back the silverware from Turin, which had 32,257 in attendance.
Over in England, where the Premier League will perpetually dominate football headlines, attendances are also on the up. The Women’s FA Cup final at Wembley played host to a competition-record 49,094, witnessing Manchester City lose to Chelsea. The figures eclipsed the 2018 final of 45,423 in attendance. However, in the Women’s Super League figures, average attendances sit at around 1,000, despite spikes of up to 40,000.
These record-setting matches for women’s football are certainly big steps in the right direction, with fans proving that the game is valued – particularly in Barcelona. Still, more needs to be done to raise the profile of each domestic game.