Women’s sports are (finally) becoming big business

They won! Competitions, such as the football world cup, in some cases, and medals, including gold, at the London Olympics in 2012. But American footballers won more: it was equal to the salary of the men they earned. At the conclusion of an agreement, and above all, a long battle, including on a legal basis, the American Federation of “soccer”, as the game of ball across the Atlantic, has already taken two national teams, men’s and women’s, receive the same salary in international competitions and battles.

In addition, the two teams will equally share money paid by the International Football Federation, FIFA, for their participation in the World Cups, to be held for men in 2022, in Qatar, and for women, in Australia and New Zealand, in 2023. Did stars like Megan Rapinoe enjoy it? Of course, but they point out, however, that they have been discriminated against for years – as their performances sometimes surpass those of men … And if footballers agree to share, the truth remains that the 32 teams of men’s teams competed. in Qatar next November will share $ 450 million, while the 24 women’s teams in the 2019 World Cup in France will have to settle for $ 30 million …

Cultural developments

Where did this space come from? Cultural – and sexist – reflexes still anchored, found almost anywhere in professional sport, be it football, tennis, golf, rugby, cycling …? No doubt. The fact that women’s sport doesn’t attract as many viewers and therefore doesn’t make as much money as men’s sport with ticketing and broadcasting rights? “In fact, if women’s football hadn’t been banned between 1921 and 1971 in the UK – for the sole reason that it was more of a crowd draw then than men’s football – it could now be the most popular sport in world, more. so than its male counterpart “, underlines Wladimir Andreff, honorary professor at the University Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne and president of the Scientific Council of the Observatory of the economy of sport, at the Ministry of Sports.

However, over the past twenty years, women’s professional sport has flourished. So by the end of 2020, consulting firm Deloitte predicts that, considering television rights, sponsorship contracts and revenue from events, the amounts likely to be brewed will exceed large at a billion dollars per year. years into the future. A figure admittedly small compared to the 471 billion the sports business reached in general in 2018, but women’s sport has nonetheless demonstrated, in recent years, “its ability to generate a large television audience, to provide of value to sponsors and attract thousands of fans, ”Deloitte said. As for the Nielsen polling institute, it noted, in a 2018 survey, that the rise of women’s professional sport is one of the most important. In fact, in the eight major countries studied, in Europe and the rest of the world, data collected shows that 84% of sports fans generally expressed interest in women’s sports, including 51% of men.

Celebrating footballers

Some clubs, especially football clubs, understand this very well. In the wake of the cultural turmoil that resulted from May 68, which allowed the development of women’s sports, FC Lyon created a women’s football team in 1970 (attached to Olympique Lyonnais since 2004) and Paris Saint-Germain launched a section in 1971. Lyon The footballers rediscovered themselves, by winning the Champions League finals against Barcelona, ​​in a Turin tree stadium (more than 40,000 spectators).

“But if the strategy of these clubs is fruitful, especially that of Jean-Michel Aulas, in the OL, the salaries paid to the players will still come from the income generated by the men’s teams”, tempers Wladimir Andreff. .

Senior employees, because OL and PSG offer, according to estimates by the newspaper L’Equipe, the highest average total monthly salary in the championship, with 12,000 euros and 9,000 euros respectively, and 37,000 euros for two French internationals, Kadidiatou Diani (at PSG) and Wendie Renard (at OL), but still pale compared to the monthly millions of male stars from these clubs!

Increased audience

Will French professional sportswomen one day win the same contract as men, or in any case, will they be paid, for their participation in international competitions, at the same price? It all depends on certain elements, including the television audience. According to Deloitte, in 2019, the women’s football cup broke records, with a total of nearly one billion viewers, to which should add the 500 million who accessed it through digital platforms. As a result, broadcasting rights continue to rise in major football countries. For example, they cost, in France, for the 2018-2023 women’s D1 season, 1.2 million euros per season on Canal +, against 110,000 euros in 2011 and 200,000 in 2017. And this, after that amounts, is clear which is higher, of course for men’s matchs, the defeat is complete, even if the bitter battle is still in question … There are also sponsors. So, chemist Arkema, a partner of French women’s football since 2019, re-engaged in April until 2025. A sponsorship that cost her 1.2 million euros per season. Professional sportswomen, regardless of discipline, also benefit from this enthusiasm in the form of contracts with sponsors. In fact, “the female body remains a medium of advertising choice,” sighs Wladimir Andreff, who is also worried about seeing some masculine shortcomings, such as aggressiveness, handling the sport of women of the future – to watch …