It was great to see the attendance at the Women’s FA Cup Final on 5th May was a record-breaking 45,423. That’s a massive achievement considering attendance had slumped to 4,988 in 2013. Someone on Twitter sneered that he didn’t see what all the fuss was about – Wembley was still only half full and the FA had sold tickets for only £15 to adults and free to children. So what? Like many who criticize women’s football that isn’t the point. It is vastly unfair to compare the crowds at a men’s final. The women’s game doesn’t have the same strength in numbers in their fan bases and probably never will have. Many of those at Wembley were ‘neutrals’ – there to enjoy the spectacle rather than rooting for either side in particular.
The good news is that since 2013 crowds at the FA Cup Finals have risen – last year was over 30,000 – thanks to better coverage and sponsorship. Many forget that the Women’s Super League only began in 2010 and only has two divisions. In addition, only a few of the top players get paid – most are semi-professional or amateur. And the pay structure is nothing like the men’s. Footballer Neymar gets more in a year than the entire salaries of the France, Germany, US, England, Mexico, Sweden and Australia national women’s teams combined!
What I watched on TV was a match full of excitement against two top women’s teams – Chelsea Ladies and Arsenal. I saw two super goals from Ramona Bachmann for Chelsea Ladies and when Vivienne Miedema scored for Arsenal Women in the 70th minute it was game-on. Fran Kirby’s strike three minutes later ensured Chelsea lifted the cup but it was a great match – the standard of play is rising – there’s no doubt about that – and both clubs were a credit to the game. There was no talk of the Women’s Cup Final ‘losing its magic’ as there is for the men’s game. For many children attending their first event at Wembley the cup match would have been a memorable, inspiring occasion. Long may it continue.
Reading the Game
For any fans who want to keep up with what’s happening in the world of girls’ and women’s football I can recommend She Kicks magazine and website.