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Women footballers find the world is finally watching

AFP  |  Paris 

During the first Women's in 1991, only fans in host nation could watch games on television. This year's edition in will be shown live in more than 200 countries.

FIFA, the governing body of world football, is aiming for a global audience of one billion for the 24-team women's showcase that runs from June 7 to July 7.

The competition can help women's emerge from the shadow of the men's game, particularly in and South Africa, who have qualified for the first

In some countries, particularly where the national team excels, women's has been more and more visible on TV with more and more women working as analysts and commentators. Audiences have been growing too.

In the United States, three-world champions and four-times Olympic gold medallists, the biggest TV audience to view a football match was 27 million who tuned in for final win over Japan, played in a convenient zone in Vancouver,

In Japan, who won and lost the 2012 London final, both against the United States, a women's match at drew a 30 percent share of the TV audience.

"There is a tradition of sport on TV that has been expressed through men's sport," said Laurent-Eric Le Lay, at Television, one of the host broadcasters for the upcoming World Cup.

However, in France, during women's matches shown on prime-time cost as little as half those shown during men's

"Women's football developed later. Maybe one day the trend will be reversed," explained Le Lay.

Attention is increasing though, and that is both a product of the rising level of the women's game and a stimulus to the rising level.

With standards being raised across the board, competition is improving all the time.

"The sporting show is of interest, a priori, only when there is a real opposition", said Yann Imine, a at where he specialises in the development of women's football.

is one of the leading forces in women's football, and the women's game there has really been on the rise since the country hosted the competition in 2011. National team matches are regularly broadcast.

A key moment came in 2014 when Turbine Potsdam refused a request from to put back the kick-off of a semi-final against German rivals because the broadcaster was showing motor

In Brazil, could be a pivotal moment for women's football. For the first time, Globo, the country's biggest TV channel, is showing all the national team's games.

- 'Lack of awareness' -

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In the past, TV largely ignored the women's team even though Marta was world of the year six times.

When won their seventh Copa America last May, home TV showed no matches. No club competitions are televised, although the last month signed a deal with to stream league matches.

of Jordan, the of the and of the as well as an ardent promoter of women's football, told AFP that in order to encourage girls to play they need to see their "role models".

"One of the big problems with women's football," Ali told AFP in an interview, "is that they don't have much of a chance to see their role models because broadcasting is not there for women's football, unless it's a major tournament.

"You don't see club competitions, even in You don't have that access to it." The level of coverage of will offer another sign that the times are changing.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sat, April 13 2019. 10:05 IST
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