The FIFA Women’s World Cup has engaged not just sports fans, but the nation as a whole. Swept up in a passionate display of tribalism, patriotism and a love of sport, Aussies have rallied around the Matildas. Ben Collison discusses the business of sport and where to from here.
Breaking barriers on countless fronts, the Matilda’s have inspired iconic scenes of sold-out crowds, jam-packed pubs and clubs, sprawling live sites, unprecedented merchandise sales, and recording breaking broadcast figures. One would be hard-pressed to find a child not kicking around a soccer ball amidst the world cup mania.
Despite the Matildas defeat in the finals, the World Cup has been a significant commercial success for Australia and for women’s sports in general. Capitalising on this success brings about the conversation of “where to from here?” for women’s soccer in Australia. Who needs to do what to keep this momentum going?
This question has multiple answers. Most importantly, the Australian public have demonstrated hunger for the sport is there and leaves no doubt the Australian market wants more! The second answer falls to an old business adage of supply and demand or demand and supply.
As a whole, women’s sport at an elite level continues to garner and cultivate a commercially viable audience base with significant strides being accomplished in the NRL and AFL over recent years. With the recent performance and commercial success of the Matildas, the domestic market shows the capacity and willingness to breath fire into yet another code.
Its worth noting, both the NRL and AFL have their spiritual home here in Australia, in contrast to soccer (football), which despite having a significantly higher base has a predominate euro-centric commercial market.
Having a strong market in which to present your product has always been a fundamental practice for any business model, and let’s be honest, at the end of the day we are talking business, not sport.
Like any product, if there is a large enough market base wanting and needing a product (in this case the Matildas), the greater the buy-in and return on investment for potential commercial partners. The game has seen this with the substantial investment from CommBank (and across multiple codes).
So, how do we keep those corporate partners engaged? It falls to us as spectators. Having demonstrated our appetite, we have given the commercial sector the justification to invest in the game even further.
But we need to keep it up, we need to keep the cycle turning. By attending games, turning in to watch matches on TV and by buying memberships and merchandise, we are playing our part as consumers to preserve and further the future of the game.
Such success will also put to bed a long held and emotive debate about pay equality within sports. The greater the commercial opportunities behind the game the greater the expansion of player renumeration. The answer for better pay isn’t going to come from some magic wave of a pen or government legislation, but rather a growing and more engaged audience.
We have to show the players their worth and we do this by showing the same enthusiasm and passion demonstrated throughout the world cup.
Like any sport, its a team effort!
Feature image courtesy of Commbank Matildas.