Women's World Cup breakthrough?

Millions are watching the Women's World Cup

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Is the Women's World Cup a breakthrough moment?

By Joe Harker

The Women's World Cup is on and gaining plaudits for boosting the profile of women's football.

Some are hailing it as a breakthrough for the popularity of the sport, with millions tuning in for and leading to a new generation inspired by what they see.

Others are cautioning that overstating the levels of support for the women's game is undermining a rise in popularity.

The Claim:

England's first game of the competition, a 2-1 win against Scotland, was the most watched game of women's football in the UK.

In addition to the joy of watching the Lionesses win, the large viewing figures for the WWC are thought to be a major factor in encouraging young girls to take up the sport themselves.

Interest in women's football appears to be higher than ever with the WWC the ideal moment to mark an uptick in audience size.

The Daily Telegraph reports that girls will be inspired by seeing women play football on the TV.

Nearly 70 per cent of girls want to see more women playing sport shown on TV while over 80 per cent aged between seven and 21 think the increased focus on women's sport will help inspire more to take up sport.

The Counter Claim:

However, the Daily Mail reports that the women's game will not be helped by attempts to "over-hype" the crowds.

Viewing figures for the competition are impressive but the Mail argues that talking about how many people are watching is premature, particularly when there are plenty of empty seats in the stadiums.

The game between England and Scotland was played at the Allianz Riviera in Nice, a 35,000 seater stadium, but only around 13,000 of the seats were taken.

Ian Ladyman of the Mail was keen to stress this wasn't the problem, the number of fans in the stadium around what was expected for the WWC, but he suggested that tournament organisers could do with some perspective on where the women's game is at.

People are already talking about how great a moment the WWC is for the women's game, but overstating the levels of support may do the game no favours now. Gaining millions of viewers and inspiring a generation is great, there's no need to exaggerate.

The Facts:

England's win against Scotland was watched by a peak audience of 6.1 million people in the UK, with a 37.8 per cent audience share. The previous record was around four million viewers for a Euro 2017 final semi final against The Netherlands.

It far outstripped other sporting events on at the moment, with the Cricket World Cup gaining a peak audience of 1.3 million and the England men's team in the Nations League semi final which was watched by 2.6 million people.

However, the Women's World Cup is being shown on the free to air BBC which everyone can watch whereas the other competitions are stuck behind Sky Sports subscriptions.

Still, it's a marker of how far the women's game has come and how important it is to get young girls playing football.

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