Opinion: Women′s World Cup hurt by lack of organization | Opinion | DW | 22.06.2019
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Opinion: Women's World Cup hurt by lack of organization

Germany's win against Nigeria was played in front of an almost full house. This is the exception rather than the rule, owing partly to FIFA's lack of planning. The women's game deserves better, argues DW's Felix Tamsut.

Germany's last 16 win against Nigeria was held at the Stade des Alpes, in the French city of Grenoble. The French Alps weren't the only exciting sight seen on television. The stadium, which has the capacity of about 20,000 people, looked close to being completely full, with the fans being heard cheering for their teams during large parts of the game.

Unfortunately, this has been the exception rather than the rule during the 2019 Women's World Cup. None of the eight round of 16 matches have sold out, according to FIFA's data. Only five games in the knockout stages have, including both semifinals and the final, FIFA told the Associated Press.

Fußball-Frauen-Weltmeisterschaft - Deutschland vs Spanien (Reuters/B. Szabo)

Empty stands during Germany's game against Spain.

The women's game is picking up pace during the 2019 World Cup. TV rights holders around the world report high rating numbers for many of the games, with social media engagement numbers also suggesting a similar trend.

FIFA, too, have taken to social media to boast about the spike in attention for the women's game on TV and on social media during the tournament. The competition's official Twitter account often tweets about the high number of people watching on TV.

It was FIFA's job to use that momentum and make sure the stadiums in the women's game's most important competitions will be filled with fans from France and around the world. Instead, stadiums often look empty, with barely any support whatsoever. Paris' Parc des Princes, for instance, has well over double the capacity of the Stade des Alpes.

Match-going fans contribute to the experience that makes football the world's most popular sport. It's quite simply not the same without them in attendance. FIFA talking about high viewer numbers on television while not putting more emphasis on filling the grounds also goes to show where its priorities lie.

Felix Tamsut Kommentarbild

DW's Felix Tamsut

The game in Grenoble shows that with the right planning, women's football can appeal to football fans and draw crowds to stadiums. FIFA really missed a trick by not putting more effort into the marketing of the tournament in local communities, as well as by not holding many games in stadiums that would fit the demand and ticket sale numbers, just like the game between Germany and Nigeria. 

This is hardly the only example of FIFA's planning this Women's World Cup. Just think of the many fans stranded at the Le Havre stadium after the US' game against Sweden, or the journalists in the Parc des Princes' press area who were not offered any food during the World Cup's opening game. It's hard to imagine this happening at the men's equivalent of the competition.

Women's football — and indeed, football fans around the world watching on television — deserve better.

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