A lead figure in Nottingham Women’s football has called on broadcasters to ‘get their act together’ and improve their rights offers for the World Cup.
Steve Weatherby, Club Secretary and Welfare Officer at Arnold Eagles Girls and Ladies FC, believes the offer made to FIFA from European broadcasters to show the Women’s World Cup ‘doesn’t sit comfortably’ with him knowing the rise in popularity of the ladies’ game.
The news comes after FIFA president Gianni Infantino threatened to not broadcast the Women’s World Cup in five European countries unless TV companies improve their rights offers.
Infantino said “disappointing” offers from the UK, Spain, Italy, Germany and France were a “slap in the face” of the players and “all women worldwide”.
He added it was FIFA’s “moral and legal obligation not to undersell” the event.
An offer in the region $1m-$10m (£800,000-£8m) for the rights, compared with $100m-$200m for the men’s World Cup, has left a bitter taste in Weatherby’s mouth.
He says: “Whilst the popularity of the women’s game isn’t as big as the men’s, this type of offer shows a disparity not just in sport between the two genders but also in society.
“If the offer was around £50 million it would reflect a closer figure, especially with the rise in attendance we’ve seen in the women’s game over the past 10 years or so.”
The growth in the game was helped enormously with the National team’s victory in last year’s European Championships, and Weatherby feels that whilst a potential blackout of this year’s World Cup isn’t great, it wouldn’t be too detrimental to the women’s game.
He says: “There have been strides in the women’s game by the English FA to increase things like FA Cup prize money and better promotion of the sport in communities, so year on year there will be more generations of girls getting into the game.
“Our population has as many girls as boys, so in theory this generation won’t have the same view of inequality we have seen in previous years.
“It would be disappointing for parents and children to not see a World Cup this year, and it may reduce growth for future players slightly, but I can’t see it stagnate too much as a result.”
Australia and New Zealand will co-host this year’s event starting July 20.