Investment in sponsorship opportunities for women’s sports is set to increase following the unprecedented viewership of the FIFA Women’s World Cup, according to a leading sponsorship consultant. RTÉ reported that its coverage of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 broke audience records in Ireland, with the Republic of Ireland’s group match against Canada becoming the most-watched women’s team sport event in Irish TV history, attracting an average of 551,000 viewers. Ireland’s opening match against Australia was also a major success, with 368,000 live streams on RTÉ Player, making it the biggest live event of the year on the platform and the second-highest live-streamed event ever.
ONSIDE, a consultancy group specializing in sponsorships, revealed that two-thirds of sponsorship industry professionals in Ireland selected a woman as their most marketable personality in 2023. The company expects this trend to continue into 2024. Katie McCabe, Ireland’s captain, was identified as the highest-ranked footballer on this list. However, there is currently a gap between McCabe and her teammates. John Trainor, the chief executive of ONSIDE, acknowledged this gap but expressed optimism that more opportunities would arise. He highlighted the challenge faced by sponsors in working with Irish sports stars on “local activations” when they spend most of the year playing for their overseas clubs.
Despite this challenge, Trainor’s research indicates a growing confidence in women’s football, both among consumers and within the industry. Early sponsors in women’s football, such as Sky, Carlsberg, and Cadbury, have made significant investments in activation and have become integral to the sport’s evolving growth story. Their involvement has provided crucial evidence for other brands considering entering women’s sports or aligning themselves with the FAI senior women’s team. While Trainor cautioned that major events like the World Cup can sometimes lead to a decline in interest, he believes that there are factors in place to suggest continued growth in women’s football.
“We are confident that total investment from brands in women’s football will increase,” Trainor stated. He emphasized that the team’s success on the pitch will play a vital role in securing future sponsorships. If Ireland’s women can qualify for the Euros in 2025, Trainor believes it will be a significant driver of positive momentum, further attracting sponsors and ensuring the sport’s continued growth.