The unstoppable growth of women's football in Europe

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The UEFA report 'Women's football across the national associations 2016/17' reveals that there are already 1,270,481 women footballers across Europe. Six European countries have over 100,000 registered players, with close to 44,000 in Spain alone.

Women's football.

The growth in the popularity of women's football is unstoppable: after the great success of the 2015 World Cup (Canada), the 2016 Olympic Games (Rio de Janeiro) and the 2017 European Cup (Netherlands), more and more women and girls are playing football throughout Europe.

According to the report Women's football across the national associations 2016/17 [PDF] prepared by the UEFA, there are 1,270,481 women footballers registered in the 55 national football federations ascribed to the highest body of European football, and six countries (England, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden) have over 100,000 registered players. According to this report, there are nearly 44,000 players registered in Spain for the 2017/2018 season. This boost is due to three main factors:

  • The fantastic work of the Spanish Football Federation, its territorial federations and clubs, which have opened the doors to international successes in the lower categories and good results for the national teams in the World Cup and the European Cup.
  • The increased visibility of women's football: the number of spectators and television viewers has skyrocketed since the World Cup in Canada.
  • The role of big sponsors such as Iberdrola, which has given a great boost to the Spanish Women's League, as acknowledged by Jorge Vilda, the coach of the Spanish women's football team.

Women's football in Europe, overview.#RRSSWomen's football in Europe, overview.

 SEE INFOGRAPHIC: Women's football in Europe, overview [PDF]

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The benchmark for our football is the German model, "not only because of its significant number of licenses, but also because its players were the first to professionalise the sport and because they have attained a high level of competition in all categories. The truth is that we are very close at the organisational level as well as in the quality of our players, so much so that we have already defeated them on occasion", says Jorge. The secret here is not to miss out on even one single talented player. "In our country, it is very difficult for a player who is qualified to play for the national team in any category not to do so, since we have a network of regional scouts who do an amazing job, travelling to the most remote villages to claim the best. In addition, this progress makes the level more competitive and so enhances the quality of the elite players. Now we have to follow through for this level to improve in the other categories and reach the football base", explains Jorge, with his 11 years of experience as a coach.

The fact that it is men who are the coaches of most elite women's teams is a mere question of statistics. As the national coach analyses, "there are many more men coaches than women coaches, but that trend is going to change: more and more former players will become coaches once they retire and, over time, will occupy the most important benches. We'll even see them coaching elite men's teams". This evolution is the reward "for the tremendous effort made by many people over many years, selflessly promoting women's football. We must not lose our heads though — our football has to be based on solid, credible, profitable, and durable models", concludes Jorge Vilda.

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