European women’s football has come a long way in recent years, yet it is still considerably underdeveloped. Football being one of the most revered forms of popular culture in Europe offers a unique window into evolution of roles and representation of achievements of women, but despite significant strides in recent years the women’s game is still far behind. Fewer sponsorship deals, lower stadium attendance and commercial value were a few of the problems with which women’s football struggled, even before the Covid-19 outbreak. Now, the sustainable survival of the game is under threat. In both industry and academia there is a gap in attention to women’s football fandom, particularly from the organisations’ side, and its potentials for commercial value creation and financial sustainability of the game. Taking the high potential of fandom to generate sustainable income, the present project aims to develop fan engagement practice to increase attendance and commercial value in women’s football. I will employ a novel interdisciplinary, comparative participatory approach involving academia and industry stakeholders, identifying the unique attributes and current state of women’s football fandom and key components of an effective fan engagement framework for teams and associations. The project will be conducted in the context of Ireland and will be hosted by Dublin City University. To learn about fan engaging planning, practices and data analysis in the industry, I will carry out two secondments in two well-known sport marketing companies in Europe. Collectively, the outcomes of this project will provide a novel understanding of gendered perceptions of women’s football in Ireland and Europe, and how fan engagement can be tailored to women’s football for better commercialisation. The findings would help the industry engage fans effectively for the survival of the game, and future research can build up on the ideas and findings in different countries and women’s sports.
Fields of science
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