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Ladies football not 'sexy' enough for the media

27 Jul 2013, 18:08

Published: 27 Jul 2013 18:08 GMT+02:00

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No mention of the heartbreak suffered by the Swedes who had a goal disallowed or struck the post late on. It was a dramatic game watched by over 16,000 in the stadium and boasting a television viewing audience of millions.

But nothing. Nada. Niente.

Women's football appears to not be sexy enough to attract attention from the mainstream media. This is despite the fact that Uefa recently lauded Euro 2013 as the "best ever Women's Euro" with record attendances.

"I can only speak for Goal really when I say that it's not worth our while sending people out to women's tournaments because the mainstream appeal among football fans in general just isn't there," Peter Staunton, a senior editor with Goal.com, told The Local.

Granted, the likes of the BBC and the Guardian have done a solid job with minute-by-minute commentaries of many games at Euro 2013. England's thumping by France early in the competition was the most read sports article on the Guardian for a 24-hour period.

For all that though, have a look at the popular 101 Great Goals fansite, which posts dozens of football videos on a daily basis. These range from bizarre own goals to match highlights.

You'll find barely a mention of Euro 2013 if you want to catch up on the action. You will find plenty of videos of new Bayern Munich manager Pep Guardiola practising his German.

The lack of media coverage is a persistent problem affecting the ladies game. When the oxygen of publicity is given to it you'll invariably get cliches about the inevitable, and unfair, comparisons with the men's scene.

For instance, the media lapped up the story earlier in the year about Sweden's ladies team being given a battering by an underage boys side. AIK's under 17's beat the female opponents 3-0 playing with just 10 men or, should that be, boys.

"We had our hands full during the game," said Swedish defender Sara Thunebro while the boys reported that the ladies team were "strong and aggressive".

Such adjectives are to be expected when often the only media theme is how ladies football stacks up against the men. Women's soccer needs to be assessed on its merits and not how the girls compare with the boys.

Of course, the women's game is hardly helped when Fifa President Sepp Blatter suggested that it would get better ratings if the players wore tighter shorts.

Perhaps the gaffe-prone Blatter should look at the most recent TV ratings in Sweden. The nation's opening group games against Italy and Denmark were the two most watched programmes in the entire country.

Women's football does have an audience and if you bother to watch it, you'll notice they can play a bit too.

For instance the final of the women's World Cup in 2011 between Japan and the USA was the most thrilling game of the year. The Asian side won on penalties watched by almost 50,000 spectators.

It was certainly a lot more entertaining than the snoozefest the men produced in 2010 World Cup final between Spain and Netherlands.

But there we go again, comparing the two codes. It's inevitable, inescapable and will remain so for as long as the women's game is kept in relative obscurity.

Story continues below…

"It's not like tennis in which men and women compete for the limelight alongside one and other. In football, women's football is very much second best in terms of its perception and its appeal," said Staunton.

"It's a self-perpetuating cycle. The interest isn't there so we don't cover it and so forth," the football journalist added.

So there you have it. You can join the cycle or buck the trend and watch a match starting with the Euro 2013 final between Germany and Norway.

It's not as if you can rely on the media to deliver an authoritative report the following day now is it?

Patrick Reilly

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