You are here

Will the World Cup help French women's football or will it just reinforce already existing gender stereotypes?

Copyrights: NatiSythen

Will the World Cup help French women's football or will it just reinforce already existing gender stereotypes?

Marking the start of the FIFA Women's World Cup 2019 in France, we launch an article series from researcher Eva Wolzok looking at the media coverage in the lead up and during the tournament, and the resulting impact on the French public.

The FIFA Women’s World Cup starts today. The build up to it has made more noise than usual with global campaigns from Nike, and a well-crafted German TV advert where players are fighting stereotypes. In France, the giant phone company Orange also played on the anonymity of the national players, and lastly the French Football Federation showcased the growth of a passion for the game through a heartwarming video.

Will this year’s FIFA World Cup hold all its promises of women’s football being valued worldwide, and more specifically in France?

To discuss this, we will deepen our understanding of how gender inequality is challenged or reinforced in sport and in society at both an organisational and individual level through the lens of two specific medias outlets in France.

This article series will first focus on how as well as how much the French female football players are written and spoken about in their national media:

  • Articles from L’Equipe, France’s number one sports newspaper that extensively covered the Men’s World Cup last year, and is arguably the biggest written platform for sports in France. Therefore a good reflection of France’s attitude towards different types of sports and athletes will be reviewed
  • TF1, France’s open TV channel, will broadcast all of France’s football games plus 25 of what they deem to be the ‘best’ games. The other 27 games will be on a paid channel. The commentators on TF1 for this year’s World Cup will be the same ones that commentated on the FIFA Men’s Football World Cup 2018, so analysing the content of their World Cup commentaries this year will provide a great opportunity for a cross-comparison

Next, the articles will look at how French women see themselves in relation to the Women’s World Cup being held in France. This global competition is a first step in promoting women’s football in France at the highest level, but how does that resonate (if it does at all) with every day French women?

By surveying French women from all backgrounds, whether they are avid sportswomen or not, it will allow us to see how this global event is impacting them and more importantly if they are aware of the extent of the impact.

In the last few years, momentum has been building in France, with Lyon’s team as a driving force by showcasing how spectacular women’s football can be when given the appropriate resources and opportunities to achieve elitism. This has led to a strong interest from the public, shown by the 25,907 fans who came on 13 April to watch Lyon win against their main rival Paris.

Since the men’s national team won the World Cup last summer, the number of girls and women picking up football in France has increased by 15% bringing the number of women enrolled in football leagues to almost 170,000. This is still relatively few compared to their male counterparts, but what is significant about this number is that the amount of women’s football clubs has nearly doubled in the last eight years from 3,000 to 5,000, which is exciting and promising for the future of women’s football and the World Cup dreams of youngsters in France and around the world.

Eva Wolzok is a PhD candidate in Sport Policy at the National Taiwan Normal University, focusing on the balance between community development and human-centered sport polices. She also works as a research fellow at a Taiwanese think-tank, developing specific initiatives to address renewable energy issues in Taiwan. 


Article type



Eva Wolzok


Friday, June 7, 2019 - 08:39