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As the World Cup has vividly shown, women's football is growing in popularity and status with increasing participation, professionalization and media attention across the world. But, in our recent investigation into the women's game, we find it is still fighting for a stable footing.
We surveyed 3,000 players in 33 different countries, of whom 60 percent categorized themselves as professional. What we found was that a professional football career for women is hard to sustain in the face of low pay, a lack of contractual support, and commitments away from the pitch. There is a need for significant change to the way women footballers are supported to play for club and country alike.
Paradox - Hand - Interest - Women - Football
What we found was a paradox. On the one hand, there is a growing interest in women's football at both club and international levels, reflected in increased media coverage. The World Cup semi-final between England and the U.S. attracted an average audience of 10.3m viewers on the BBC in the UK and 7m viewers on Fox in the US.
But, on the other hand, the working conditions in the game are no way near where they should be to reflect this. Gender inequality is well documented in other sectors of the economy and our study confirms that football also suffers in equal, if not greater measure—not only from very low levels of pay but also precarious working conditions and a lack of basic support.
Level - Process - Professionalization - Countries - FIFA
At elite level, the process of professionalization is underway in several countries. FIFA claim that around 30m women play the game globally, and that 5m are registered with a national association. In its current strategy document for women's football, the governing body paints a rosy picture of the current reality, describing the sport as "cutting across all boundaries in terms of society, race, religion, ethnicity and socioeconomic...
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