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Opinion: Finding a Better Way: Collaborative Solutions for Valuing Women’s Football

Opinion: Finding a Better Way: Collaborative Solutions for Valuing Women’s Football

Author: Rebecca Sowden, Team Heroine & Correct The Internet Founding Partner, and Ex NZ Football Fern

The recent opinion piece by Vince Rugari in the Sydney Morning Herald titled ‘FIFA threatens ‘outrageous’ European blackout for Women’s World Cup’ sparked a lot of emotions and thoughts in me. As someone who has dedicated her life to the growth and development of women’s sport, there’s a better way to address the issue of valuing women’s football.

Scolding broadcasters for under-valuing women’s football when the sport’s governing body has spent decades under-valuing, under-investing, and under-promoting women’s football is not the right approach. Moreover, a European broadcast blackout would be catastrophic for all parties involved, including FIFA’s sponsors, fans, and the future of the women’s game.

It’s important to recognise that European broadcasters have every right to weigh up off-peak time zones and consider how much commercial return they will deliver, alongside the likely success of their national teams.

Like everyone else, I want to see women’s football appropriately valued, but there are better ways to go about it.

Instead of resorting to aggressive tactics, I propose we explore collaborative and creative solutions to create a win-win situation for broadcasters, fans, sponsors, the game, and FIFA’s bottom line.

In the short term, we could consider the following:

  1. Exploring a revenue share or joint cost model.
  2. Offering media rights payouts as certain viewership figures are reached.
  3. Providing wider and more flexible monetization opportunities for broadcasters, such as greater rights on social media.
  4. Ensuring guaranteed and meaningful promotional investment in the lead-up to the tournament.
  5. Creating additional shoulder content to build interest and hook fans in the build-up, such as documentaries about women’s football teams.
  6. Encouraging broadcasters to have faith and place their bets favourably, as women’s sports audiences continue to pleasantly surprise.

In the long term, we need to focus on:

  1. Everyday advocacy and education around the value of women’s football, following the example of The Fan Project and WNBA’s always-on efforts.
  2. Greater transparency around women’s commercial revenues, value, and accounting lines.
  3. Striking a balance between wide-reaching free-to-air and pay TV broadcasting to ensure both growth and monetization.
  4. Encouraging greater collaboration, less red tape, and more innovation with broadcasters, media, players, and sponsors to better grow and monetize the game.

The Takeaway:

While the increased prize money for this Women’s World Cup was a welcome move, “leading by example” and “doing our part” requires long-term investment, commitment, and conviction every day, not just a single action a few months before the tournament or every four years.

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