El Clasico breaks women’s football record but changes key for ‘more than empowerment’ message to have meaning

Over 99,000 tickets were sold for the Women’s El Clasico match at the Camp Nou.

The Women’s El Clasico took place last night (Wednesday 30 March 2022) at the Camp Nou in Barcelona and broke the record for the highest attended women’s game of all time.

Barcelona were all over their rivals, beating them 5-2 in this second leg, and 8-3 on aggregate - in the Women’s Champions League semi finals and had over 91,000 people there supporting them.

La Liga had previously held the record for the highest attended women’s club game when Barcelona travelled to play Atletico Madrid at the Wanda Metropolitano back in 2019 and just as momentum was building for the support in the women’s game to increase, Covid-19 struck.

USA and Japan previously held the record for the highest ever attendance at a women’s match as over 80,000 people watched the USA win Olympic gold at the 2012 Olympics but La Liga has now smashed this record out the park.

The match between Real Madrid and Barcelona’s Women took place in the men’s stadium and the tickets were all sold out by January.

As rain fell on Barcelona, seats seemed to remain empty and fears set in that the attendance would reach nowhere near what it became.

Slowly but surely the stadium filled up and Barcelona and Real Madrid were met with an electric audience.

The excitement around the ground was also matched with a mosaic that read: “More than empowerment.”

‘More than Empowerment’ was written across the Stadium
‘More than Empowerment’ was written across the Stadium
‘More than Empowerment’ was written across the Stadium

It was clear that the Women’s El Clasico was not just about the game, this was a huge step for Women’s football in general.

Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas said: “I don’t have the words to describe it, It was super magical. The game ended and the fans didn’t want to leave. It was incredible.”

In the men’s Premier League, the average attendance is around 34,500 people. Manchester United averages much higher with over 73,000 expected on game day while clubs such as Brentford would expect nearer 17,000.

In the Women’s Premier League however, averages sit at around 2,300. It is not usual for female clubs to use the same as the men’s.

The averages alone explain that quite simply, they could not fill anywhere near the number of seats for it to be financially viable.

However, what La Liga has been showing over the past few years, is that we are getting there.

Camp Nou will not be used for every Barcelona Women’s match, but if over 91,000 people are turning up on occasion, what’s the harm in upping their presence at the famous ground?

There had been a huge engagement campaign by both teams in order to increase the attendance at the ground and the Women’s El Clasico goes to show that more exposure, pressing and promoting bears fruit.

Ivana Adnres and Caroline Graham Hansen fighting for the ball
Ivana Adnres and Caroline Graham Hansen fighting for the ball
Ivana Adnres and Caroline Graham Hansen fighting for the ball

There is a misconception that because attendances at regular women’s games are so little, the matches lack entertainment and are not worthwhile attending.

But the El Clasico has completely written off this stereotype and has proved what can be done if people continue advocating and championing Women’s Sport.

The highest club attendance for the Women’s Premier League took place in 2019 when Manchester United travelled to Manchester City.

The women were invited to play in the Etihad Stadium for the first time in the club’s history and after 31,213 people showed up, the chance for other women’s clubs to use their male counterparts’s stadiums.

However, this is not a normal occurrence and women are still playing at grounds where limited seating is available.

With the Women’s Euros taking place this summer, this will hopefully be yet another opportunity for Europe’s female footballers to showcase their amazing talent.

Off the momentum of this tournament would be a fantastic chance for the women’s club teams to utilise the space at the men’s stadiums and pull greater numbers of supporters in.

The last few years have shown what continued plugging and advertising for Women’s Sport can do with attendances rising at cricket, tennis and rugby fixtures, but this is not the time to stop.

This is the time to keep going even more and realise that this is way more than just empowerment. It’s about creating as much parity as we can between the genders in sport.

With over 91,000 now the new record, it’s time for the Women’s Premier League to step up and strive to match this number so that 2019 does not become an iconic year, but becomes a starting point off which to leap.