Women’s Champions League: Clasico participation records due to problems | Sports | German football and major international sports news | DW
When Barcelona host Real Madrid in the Women’s Champions League quarter-final on Wednesday, a world record 85,000 fans are expected to attend.
If the pandemic still did not limit attendance in Spain, this number could have reached more than 100,000. There is no doubt that as women’s football increases in popularity, the Champions League has become the competition of interest to European supporters.
But while these big one-time games generate a considerable spike in attendance, the impression they give to the casual viewer is misleading. Regular weekly attendances in Europe’s biggest leagues – Germany’s Frauen Bundesliga, England’s Women’s Super League, Spain’s Primera Iberdrola and others – attract only hundreds of spectators. Barcelona are bucking the trend, however, with an average attendance of around 2,500.
Only two teams in Germany, Eintracht Frankfurt and Turbine Potsdam, have an average attendance of over 1,000 this season. By comparison, Wolfsburg and Bayern, the two most notable teams in Germany, have a record average attendance of around 750.
That game between Bayern and SGS Essen on March 27 attracted just 844 fans, a typical figure for the women’s Bundesliga.
A Champions League bubble?
The disparity between the large number of fans we will see at the Camp Nou and the low attendance numbers for league and cup games across Europe hints at inequalities that rising TV revenues can only exacerbate.
UEFA’s plan has been to play as many matches as possible in large arenas, a key part of its strategy to bring women’s football to a new and wider audience. Although it seems to work, if the participants return to domestic spectators below 1,000, it makes the Champions League look like a bubble.
“In this first season of the centralized UEFA Women’s Champions League, we have played 13 group stage matches at major venues,” said UEFA head of women’s football Nadine Kessler in a statement this week. last.
At least 20,000 more fans will attend the Barcelona women’s match against Real Madrid than the recent men’s Clasico in Madrid.
“We are delighted to see this trend continue in the quarter-finals, where seven of the eight clubs will play in their biggest stadium,” Kessler said. “It’s an incredible opportunity and a quarter-final line-up that promises world-class football in world-class arenas. Great moments like these are what women’s club football needs.”
The strategy of playing box office matches in the biggest stadiums is not unique to the Champions League, however. The England Women’s Super League play the opening game of the season in a large stadium. It is a strategy that succeeds in generating interest and increasing attendance, even if the effect is short-lived.
However, it’s not all up to UEFA, national associations need to do more to promote their game at national level. And its broadcasters, DAZN in Germany in this case, may seek to continue their free broadcast of the women’s game in Germany. This Sunday would be a good time to start, with the clash at the top of the Frauen Bundesliga table between Wolfsburg and Bayern Munich. Currently, it is broadcast in only two countries: Germany and Iceland. For paying customers.
Free tickets boost Clasico attendance
If any team can break a world attendance record, it’s Barcelona. The club’s women’s team was established in 1988 and Barca’s longstanding commitment to engaging their fan base and developing their squad has paid off.
The expected attendance at Camp Nou is the result of several factors. Firstly, it’s a Clasico, even though Real Madrid’s women’s team only came into existence in July 2020. Secondly, Barcelona have made tickets available to their 147,000 club members for free – less than modest administration costs. And thirdly, the increase in stadium support levels is part of a general trend in the Women’s Champions League.
“Barcelona have been very successful in creating a strong identity around their club that extends beyond the senior men’s team in a way that the women’s team has also benefited from,” said expert Alina Schwermer. DW soccer. “They went early in their marketing of the Clasico, but they also have the infrastructure in place.”
Broadcasters see potential in women’s football
The commercial potential of the women’s game has been recognized by broadcasters in recent years, and the Clasico will be broadcast internationally by DAZN (including for free on its YouTube channel) and BeIN Sports, leading to more views and more revenue. .
Although UEFA is apparently doing what it can to attract more fans to women’s football, on TV and in stadiums, there are still unanswered questions as to whether the association is even interested in securing a pitch. level playing field for all clubs.
Barcelona’s Lieke Martens is a big draw for the fans
On the one hand, increased television revenues will reinforce demands for equal pay; on the other hand, it is a business model that serves clubs already at the top of the pyramid, rather than supporting teams outside of the existing elite.
Women’s football has tried to avoid making the same greed-driven mistakes that men’s football has made, resulting in an exclusive group of clubs competing for top honors season after season, with little variation.
“Women’s football offers a chance to see football again,” Schwermer said. “It could be a possibility to create a different dynamic starting with women’s football that can fuel change. Because if women’s football just follows the same path as men’s, it will reach the same result with the same problems.”
Edited by James Thorogood