News | April 14th, 2022
As the Champions League competition nears its ever tense yet grand finale, attendances continue to increase, and yes, I am referring to the Women’s Champions League campaign. Last week we saw Barcelona reveling in their exceptional 5-2 win over bitter rivals Real Madrid in the European competition, subsequently advancing them toward the semi-finals with an overall 8-3 aggregate triumph.
Yet, this wasn’t the only exciting result to celebrate, for the Camp Nou recorded an exceptional record attendance of 91,553. This is a figure which exceeds some of the most eagerly anticipated men’s fixtures, and also one which supersedes the previous record of 90,185 for a female football fixture back in 1999 for the World Cup final between the United States and China. The next closest record attendance is 80,203 which was recorded in 2012 for the Olympic final between the United States and Japan.
Interestingly, the two closest records were recorded within worldwide competitions between countries, whereas it was a European club competition that provided the platform for such an incredible attendance here. This most certainly infers that women’s football is becoming increasingly watched and enjoyed by fans across the world, with the amount of exposure and benefits that the game will receive from this being invaluable. With Barcelona now awaiting Wolfsburg in the semi-final, the hope is that the level of attendance can be maintained or even exceeded. With some tickets allocated to members, the rest have already been sold out, promising an exciting fixture ahead.
In light of this excellent news, over in Portland, Oregon, United States, it seems they have been infected by the love of the women’s game too. Jenny Nguyen, a small business owner, has been recognised for opening one of the world’s first sports bars, showing purely female sports. Nguyen explains; “40% of athletes are women, 96% of all athletes on TV are men”, an insightful statistic which highlights the inequality between the male and female sports shown on television.
Jenny thought of the idea after watching an NCAA basketball game in the corner of a sports bar on an inadequately small TV with no sound. Speaking about her new endeavour, Sports Bra, her mission statement advocates “Investment and representation for women’s sports has been severely lacking for decades. The Sports Bra seeks to tackle both issues through a familiar, yet ground-breaking venture – the traditional sports bar.” Nguyen expresses how she believes there isn’t another sports bar only showing women’s sports yet wants to encourage others to do the same, further expanding the idea.
In the UK, a similar initiative is underway. The Vs. Bar campaign started in 2019 to address the need for inclusive spaces to watch women’s sports matches with the ultimate goal of opening London’s first bar dedicated to celebrating women’s sports. This is still ongoing, however remains a positive step forward.
Nguyen has essentially discovered a niche in the sports bar industry in selecting to show only female sporting competitions. A clever business decision, however, I cannot help but stress that this should not be a niche – as I’m sure she would agree – and that in time I hope to see many more sports bars screening women’s sports. As we notice the positive trend in attendances across all women’s sports not just football, the aim to boost commercialism, enhance funding and televise women’s sports across the globe should be a fundamental priority for all of the governing bodies, fans, and society as a whole.