A look back at the Women’s Football Summit
The IX: Soccer Monday with Kathleen Gier, Nov. 21, 2022
LONDON — Just about 30 minutes away from Wembley Stadium, where the U.S. Women’s National Team and England met for a sold-out friendly in October, journalists and gamers from around the world met in a posh nightclub to discuss the status of international women’s soccer.
The event was the inaugural EA Sports Women’s Football Summit. The venue was Outernet London, where floor-to-ceiling screens showed art from the new EA SPORTS FIFA 23 game at street level and provided a spirited backdrop for deeper conversation a floor below.
The Women’s Football Summit headliner, Sam Kerr, appeared on a panel alongside former French standout Laura Georges and representatives from EA Sports and DAZN, to celebrate her own unique accomplishment. Kerr, who is featured on the cover of FIFA23, is the first women’s player to appear on a global cover for the franchise. This year’s game is also the first to include women’s club teams with the Barclays FA Women’s Super League and Division 1 Arkema at launch.
“I’m still not over it,” Kerr told the crowd with a laugh when asked about the cover. “Every time I see my face on a billboard in London or someone sends me a picture of it, it’s still mind-blowing.”
Kerr is perhaps the best representative when discussing the global game having played in her native Australia, as well as the United States and the United Kingdom. She currently plays with Chelsea where the club has won three consecutive Women’s Super League titles. She is the only female player to have won the Golden Boot in three different leagues and continents.
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When asked about the growth of the game, Kerr focused on the on-field aspects citing better training techniques and attention to the nuances of women’s sports medicine.
“I think you have to put it down to the players,” Kerr told the crowd. “I know the training I did back then compared to what I do now, it’s night and day. I think the athletes have really transformed into top-top professional athletes and I think that is what makes the game so marketable right now is that the athletes are incredible and there are so many of them.”
Georges, who now serves as the Secretary General of the French Football Federation, said in our one-on-one that sponsors are taking notice too.
“We used to have women’s football sharing partnerships with the men but now you have sponsors telling you ‘I want women’s football. I want to be seen next to women’s football,’” Georges told The IX. “Brands are coming with authenticity to the women’s game not just because it’s responsible.”
DAZN, the live sports streaming company, is one of those brands. Last June, DAZN acquired global rights to broadcast the UEFA Women’s Champions League. EA Sports will join them as a global broadcast sponsor and has plans to add the knockout stage to FIFA 23 next spring with clubs like Juventus Women, Real Madrid Femenino, Chelsea Women, Manchester City Women, Olympique Lyonnais Féminin, Paris Saint-Germain Féminine and more.
Georges recently returned from a trip to Rwanda for the Federation and she said the increased availability of broadcasts through streaming services like DAZN is empowering the worldwide growth of the game.
“The culture that we have in Europe, people are watching it abroad and it’s getting to the young girls in Africa,” Georges said. “It’s telling them ‘yes,’ you can achieve and you can be seen on the big screen.”
Back on stage at the Women’s Football Summit, the conversation shifted to the environment of women’s games and Kerr took the opportunity to credit the fans for their role in soccer’s popularity surge.
“What’s really special about the women’s game is that these fans have also grown the game and we know how important they are,” Kerr said. “I think that when we are looking back at these times, we will know that the fans were just as much a part of this as the players and the sponsors are. Without those fans that really believed in the game, five, six, and seven years ago, I don’t think women’s soccer would be where it is now.”
|By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson, AP Women’s Soccer|
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