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With all eyes on the FIFA World Cup in Russia right now, we wanted to take a look into the women’s counterpart and its great potential to grow. Women’s football, or soccer, continues to be a less prevalent sport in comparison to their male counterparts.

Thankfully, recent marketing campaigns and certain clubs have been making strides towards increasing awareness and popularity of women’s football. To quantify, the Women’s World Cup final match in 2015 had a record-breaking number of viewers at 22.85 million; it became the most watched football game in American television history, for both men and women (Marketing Soccer in America).

However, the gender inequality is still obvious as the prize money for the American women winning the world cup in 2015 was $2,000,000, while the US men’s team got $8,000,000 just for qualifying for the World Cup in 2014.

Although men’s football typically brings in more revenue in countries with successful men’s teams like Germany or Spain, the prize pool for the American Women’s World Cup team is irrationally low because the American Women’s World Cup games did bring in more money than the 4 matches that the men participated in during the Men’s World Cup. Clearly, women’s football needs to gain support, and strategic marketing can really make positive impact.

Here’s How

It’s interesting to look into the women’s football culture in the United States, Germany, and the UK. Women’s football is really at its “best” in the US; the sport in the US is American football, so “soccer” can almost be seen as a female dominated sport. With multiple World Cup titles and star players, women’s football is thriving (to an extent). However, even with its great reputation, American players that earn a decent salary like Alex Morgan only achieve 7 figures after adding all of her sponsorships and endorsements to it (Marketing Soccer in America).

Most players who are talented but not as famous struggle to get by with just their football salaries and have to work second jobs. Sadly, a lot of players get paid around $6,800; the federal poverty line in the US is $11,770 (Fortier).

To gain perspective, the men’s Major League Soccer players pay ceiling is $300,000 while for the women, it’s $37,800 (Time). A major part of the problem is the organizations that control football around the world; a FIFA representative actually stated that he would not even acknowledge the pay gap between men and women because it would be “nonsense” if both genders get paid the same.

In Germany, the financial conditions are slightly better; for example, players on our local female FC Bayern Munich team get paid relatively well and often celebrate with the men’s team at Marienplatz when the two teams both win the Bundesliga title which is great for gaining fans. But, despite these efforts, the women’s team is only able to bring in an average of 600 spectators per game. Over in the UK, women were actually banned from playing football on the same pitches as men until just a few decades ago because the rising number of female players threatened the availability of space for men.

A recent decision that is generating a buzz in the UK and continues to draw positive attention is the one made by Manchester United earlier this year; the organization will establish a female Manchester United team to join the FA Women’s Super League (the highest women’s league in England) along with the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea, and more. Manchester United, the team ranked the most valuable football club in the world, establishing a women’s team is overdue and will likely bring a lot of global focus to the women’s game. Hopefully, this new addition leads to a great future for women’s football.

What Else Can We Do?

Social Media

There are a lot of ways to gauge interest in women’s football. In terms of social media, there are countless ways to take advantage because most of the women’s football target market are younger generations. The FC Bayern Munich men’s Instagram account frequently posts updates on the women’s team, which is great with their number of followers. As for personal efforts, social media is key for the players to market themselves by showing a personal side of their lives to fans. It’s also essential for attracting sponsors; the more followers a player has, the more influence she has, and the more sponsors gain interest. A player succeeding significantly from personal marketing is Alex Morgan, the exceptional American forward with 5.1 million Instagram followers. Although Morgan earns less than $500,000 for her team salary, she makes around $2 million each year from sponsorships because of her fame. Unfortunately, many attribute her success to her beauty and disregard her incredible talent. Regardless, when more sponsors become involved, it can only lead to a rise in popularity of the sport itself over the years.


An example of releasing specific products to support women’s football is Nike during the 2015 Women’s World Cup. Historically, men’s jerseys have been sold in both gender sizes for years, whereas women’s jerseys in men’s sizes were an impossible find. But, in 2015, Nike finally released men’s sizes for the women’s US National Team jerseys. It was an iconic decision made by Nike because for the first time, there were American men walking around in jerseys with “Morgan” or “Wambach” on their backs. Another great addition is FIFA’s incorporation of female players into the popular video game: needless to say, it’s definitely a step in the right direction (Gianatasio).

Advertising Campaigns

There are a lot of advertising campaigns that have been helping the rise of women’s football, like the one by Nike, “Da Da Ding”. The ad depicts Indian girls playing various sports, including football, with the message that all girls everywhere, regardless of negative stereotypes, should play sports without feeling “masculine”. Another campaign was an empowering one by UEFA with the hashtag, #weplaystrong (Glendinning).

The campaign encouraged women to support women’s football in a time of heightened interest during the Women’s Champions League final. The hashtag gained a lot of positive attention and made a strong impact on the reputation of women’s football. Similarly, Procter & Gamble partnered with star, Alex Morgan, and used #alwayslikeagirl in their campaign that encouraged women to continue playing sports (Our Top 5 Campaigns Celebrating IWD). With hashtags and viral sharing, these campaigns were able to spread rapidly.


Events can also be a great way to market women’s football. A major event in the world of women’s football is the SheBelieves Cup, held in the US every Spring since 2016 with the national teams from the United States, England, France, and Germany. The most recent one in 2018 was won by the hosts, the American team, and the turnout of the crowd during the tournament was amazing; an average of 15,512 spectators came to each game with a total of 93,072 spectators (2017 SheBelieves).

Another type of event is Girls’ Football Week organized by the FA partnered with Disney. The main goal of the event is to encourage girls to play the sport and the Disney aspect with Disney-inspired drills adds a fun, non-intimidating side that all young female players can enjoy.

Sparking Conversation

Lidl were promoting their sponsorship of the Ladies Gaelic Football Association (LGFA), the organization that regulates Irish women’s football (Zarya).

They announced their sponsorship by having a product launch for the “Ladyball”, a ball that was pink and softer than the traditional football. The release of the product sparked conversation and outrage over the sexism of the ball. However, Lidl announced shortly after that the “Ladyball” was simply a way to get people to defend female athletes; people (men and women) that were not even football fans came to the defense of women’s football and it drew a lot of great attention (read more here).

Lidl, the mastermind behind the marketing stunt, also has a great campaign called “Dream Big with Lidl”, part of their partnership with the FA Skills program, a coaching program for young children. In their campaign, Lidl depicts both boys and girls of varying ages playing football together. In a way, it’s even better to see them playing the sport collectively rather than putting the focus on one gender; it really shows that we can all enjoy football together and equally (campaign video is here).

Brand Sponsorships

A strategy to also keep in mind when marketing women’s football should be to try to raise the profile of individual players. The reality is that there are relatively few football players that the majority of the population knows. So, as is already being done in some marketing efforts, sponsoring and promoting female football players that are not famous already can be key in growing women’s football. With more backing from brands, players with great potential but are lesser known can gain fans and grow as athletes while also expanding the fan base. Children look up to these women as role models and with more well-known players, more people can enjoy following these women throughout their football careers.

The Future

With the right marketing steps and increased support by brands and commercial partnerships, women’s football can only grow. Each year, the number of girls enjoying football is increasing all over the globe and soon these young talents will become the athletes competing on the pitch for their countries and the fans in the stands; the future of women’s football looks bright.

Julia Mahnke