Women’s football has seen a huge rise in popularity over the years, both in women participating in the sport and in fans supporting their teams. Last weekend’s women’s FA Cup final at Wembley between winners Manchester City and West Ham was watched by 43,264, which was just under last year’s attendance figures of 45,423 for the match between Chelsea and Arsenal.
Football has had everyone talking this week, with some nail-biting semi-finals and both Chelsea and Arsenal joining Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur as the four British clubs making the European finals in the Europa League and Champions League respectively.
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Before the match, the FA announced that 52,000 tickets had already been sent out, raising hopes that the attendance figures would beat the existing record, which was set in 1920. The Boxing Day match between St Helens and Dick Kerr Ladies saw 53,000 supporters cheer on their team, but the women’s game was banned by the FA soon after, allegedly due to worries over the game’s growing popularity. The ban wasn’t lifted until over fifty years later in 1971.
West Ham were not expected to reach this year’s final, and when they did, the Premier League refused to move the men’s West Ham match against Southampton which was taking place on the same day on the other side of London. A move which would have meant fans could attend both games.
As a result, the Manchester City fans outnumbered the West Ham fans, despite some West Ham fans leaving the London Stadium at half time to make their way to Wembley for the 5.30pm kick-off. However, most fans stayed to watch the last home game of the season and witness the three-nil win.
Women’s FA Cup
Just six years ago, the Women’s FA Cup final was played in Doncaster at the Keepmoat stadium in front of just 5,000 supporters, but since then numbers have been growing rapidly, and Spain recently saw their biggest ever attendance figures when 60,000 fans watched Athletico Madrid play Barcelona. Keen players will find that football training drill videos are available at Sportplan.
A statement released by West Ham said the Premier League had made the decision so as not to inconvenience fans.