FIFA announced on Thursday 24th June that Australia and New Zealand will host the 2023 Women’s World Cup.
Oceania’s bid surpassed that of Colombia which was backed by both Conmebol and the CBF. Brazil were also interested in hosting the tournament at one point but withdrew from the bidding process in June along with Japan.
There were 35 countries participating in the council, with 22 votes in favour of Oceania’s bid while Colombia managed only 13 votes. The decision was met with absolute joy from both Australia and New Zealand who will host the Women’s World Cup for the very first time. Previously, the host countries were China (1991), Sweden (1995), United States (1999 and 2003), China (2007), Germany (2011), Canada (2015) and France (2019).
The last edition of the Women’s World Cup, hosted by France, broke numerous records, and became the first time the competition had more than 1 billion total spectators – an increase of 30% from the previous tournament.
Gianni Infantino, FIFA president, commented that the figures show that this Women’s World Cup was “more than a sporting event and has become a cultural phenomenon”. Brands like Nike, Qatar Airways and Visa paid tribute and inspired the theme of women’s equality, not only in the football field, but also on a global scale.
Of course, we expect major sports brands to position themselves at times like this, but did you know that Nike, at the 2015 Women’s World Cup in Canada, created versions of women’s uniforms for the first time? From 1988 to 2011, the jerseys worn were the same as the male teams, with only a few adjustments.
It was only last year that women’s uniforms were for sale. And once again, the Women’s game broke even more records. The USWNT’s official uniform was the best-selling soccer jersey in a single season, surpassing both male and female teams.
Another successful example is VISA (from Brazil), one of the event’s official sponsors, who believed that the FIFA Women’s World Cup is an important milestone in the company’s journey. Before their official announcement in 2019, they strengthened the support for sport and empowered women in such context, becoming real leaders and promoters of change. Last year, VISA made the biggest total investment in the history of women’s football.
In the last few decades, the sport has undergone many changes due to its enormous capacity to mobilize or to the development of new technologies that have promoted global influence, bringing business opportunities for competitions, championships, and events.
Today, sport has become part of an industry that generates billions of dollars annually. In an extremely competitive market, companies understand that the connection between image and sport can increase brand awareness, leverage sales, generate new business opportunities, strengthen relationships, and promote communication with consumers.
Compared to men around the world, women’s football fails to earn $ 1.2 billion in sponsorship each year. This is one of the main conclusions of a survey conducted in August last year by consultancy firm, ‘Brand Finance’, an independent global brand assessment and consultancy company.
David Haigh, CEO of the company, believes there is a huge gap in the women’s football sponsorship market. The recent agreements are steps that help in this direction, increasing the sport’s popularity. After the French World Cup’s success, women’s football has gained more attention globally and it is expected that we will see more permanent changes in the business’ dynamics, as well as in football for both genders.
The new digital platforms, such as Instagram, are also another way to enhance this appreciation of women’s football, as it allows the athletes themselves to expose their daily lives, work, and achievements to attract clubs and sponsors. Despite its current success, we cannot rely solely on an athletes’ social network to attract sponsors. The mainstream media has a major role to play in promoting Women’s sport.
It is tiring seeing brands taking advantage of the Women’s game on the eve of major events. The next step is for the global brands who flirt with the women’s game during World Cups to be a constant presence in the sport in order to increase the global profile of the game.