With the 2023 Women’s World Cup drawing to a dramatic close, we’re taking a look back at some of the most interesting insights, musings and takeaways to come out of New Zealand and Australia over the last month. The entire tournament has been a banner event for the sport, smashing attendance and viewership records amid a bevy of upsets, heartbreakers and instant classics. But before you tuck into this weekend’s final, be sure to check in on the most important on- and off-the-pitch stories you might have missed, which we’ve compiled and annotated below.
FIFA smashing Women’s World Cup attendance record
The previous attendance record — from the 2015 edition in Canada — was blown away with weeks to spare, with the 2023 version heading towards an unprecedented 2 million attendees over the course of the tournament. Interest in women’s sports is at an all-time high, and while big numbers were expected, this overperformed against even the most ambitious of expectations.
The most advanced tech at the Women’s World Cup might surprise you
Unlike most sports, professional soccer regularly adopts new balls with new characteristics, and they tend to make a big deal about it — not unlike a much-anticipated merch drop from your favorite fashion brand. Adidas released a new ball this summer for the Women’s World Cup, and sales thus far have been great. This ball also incorporates new technology that helps the referees make offside and goal-line decisions, as unfortunately happened when the US was eliminated by Sweden in PKs.
The Women’s World Cup has turned me into a football fan
This personal essay from newly minted New Zealand superfan Julia Hollingsworth shows that you never know when a lifelong fan can be added to the ranks — an important thing for all organizations to keep in mind as they think about marketing and attracting new fans. The value of a newly added devotee is nearly immeasurable (actually, most teams probably do have this measured out, but it’s too complicated for us to figure out right here, right now).
Sponsorship revenue for Women’s World Cup still lags far behind men’s tournament
Despite all the incredible progress being made, brands don’t seem to be speaking with their wallets as it relates to supporting women’s sports. This year’s tournament took in about one-sixth of the revenue generated by last year’s men’s tournament ($300M to $1.7B). This is despite the fact that female athletes are proven to have much higher engagement on their social handles, which in turn creates higher ROI on ad spend for brands.
Indigenous communities are embraced at the Women’s World Cup, but will the legacy live on?
The co-hosts of the tournament have been doing a phenomenal job of highlighting and honoring the indigenous populations of both Australia and New Zealand, an act that has gone a long way in stressing the incredible importance of these peoples to the history of the host nations. Traditional ceremonies have taken place before all matches, and players and officials have undergone cultural awareness training to alert them to the importance of certain customs and ceremonies. The hope is that in the future, practices such as this will become commonplace.
And a few more stories for your pre-final edification…
Jamaica’s crowdfunded journey to the WC
How women’s teams finally got the kits they deserve
Women’s World Cup ignites Aussie tourism surge
The Athletic and State Farm launch a partnership to increase on-the-ground coverage of the Women’s World Cup