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Volume 26 No. 60
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FIFA Chided For Lack Of Marketing Around Women's World Cup

While some World Cup signage is visible in Paris, there is not much elsewhere in France touting the tournament
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

The Women's World Cup enters the quarterfinal round tomorrow, and the "distance between the on-field product and the off-field promotional efforts is stunning," according to Dan Wetzel of YAHOO SPORTS. The much-hyped U.S.-France match will be held in Paris on Friday, but fans throughout France would be "hard-pressed to know the Women’s World Cup, let alone this specific game, is even being staged" there. There are "few billboards, signs, banners or pretty much anything else touting the event" in Paris, and fan festivals are "minimal." It is "no different in smaller host cities, such as Reims, where the U.S. played Monday in front of maybe 15,000 American fans." There is reportedly "nothing being spent in other regional cities around Europe with Cup contenders and easy access to the tournament such as London, Berlin and Rome." In contrast, last year’s men’s World Cup in Russia "not only saw promotions blanket the country, especially in Moscow, but nearly every major historic site in the city had massive and impossible-to-miss signage hyping up" the '22 men’s World Cup in Qatar. Not capitalizing on the tourney is "just bad business; collective ignorance overwhelming clear reality." FIFA should be "both funding its own promotional efforts for the women’s game as well as demanding, contractually, that the host nation spend considerable sums on it as well" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 6/25).

SO MUCH FOR A PACKED HOUSE: In DC, Matt Bonesteel noted many group-stage matches "were played in front of stadiums that were barely half full, if that, and the issue has lingered into the initial stages of the knockout round." The U.S.-Spain and Sweden-Canada Round of 16 matches saw full or mostly full stadiums, but only 12,229 fans "were on hand at 36,000-seat Allianz Riviera in Nice for Norway-Australia even though the game took place on a Saturday." FIFA's "feeble promotion of the Women’s World Cup in France itself" bears some responsibility "for the dispiriting attendance, along with a pretournament announcement that made it seem as if few tickets were still available, perhaps discouraging interested fans from buying them" (WASHINGTON POST, 6/26). The AP's Ronald Blum asked FIFA, "Where is that World Cup buzz?" There appears to be "more signage for the Women’s World Cup in the U.S. than in France" (AP, 6/21).

ORANGE CRUSH: In N.Y., Sarah Lyall noted alongside the Americans, fans from the Netherlands have "proved to be the biggest, noisiest, most exciting and most excited crowd at a World Cup tournament that has drawn uneven numbers from city to city across France." There were "thousands of them in Reims" for Canada-Netherlands last Thursday, "making up the majority of the near-capacity crowd of 19,277 at the Stade Auguste-Delaune." Interest in women's matches was "anemic" in the Netherlands until the team "unexpectedly won the UEFA women’s championship" in '17. For a sport that has a "reputation for being interesting disproportionately to women, the number of men -- and couples, and families -- in the Dutch crowd at Reims was striking" (N.Y. TIMES, 6/25). The Netherlands will play Italy on Saturday in the quarterfinals in Valenciennes, meaning the "sea of orange fans that have accompanied the Netherlands' team will return" (DEUTSCHE WELLE, 6/25). The match will provide "another chance for the orange-clad fans who danced and sang their way in a convoy to the stadium on Tuesday to stamp their mark on this tournament" (AP, 6/26).

LOOKING AHEAD: In Spokane, Vince Grippi wrote as the World Cup matches "build, and the U.S. women keep winning, Fox should see a rise" in TV viewership. The France-Croatia men’s World Cup final last year drew 11.3 million viewers, but if the U.S. plays in this final on July 7, "at least 25 million will watch." That number is "how many tuned in for their 5-2 win over Japan four years ago on Fox, and interest has only grown since then." With Univision’s Spanish language broadcast added in, that number "grows to more than 27 million." It is "little wonder why the women’s team is asking for equal pay with the men" (Spokane SPOKESMAN-REVIEW, 6/25).