For Les Bleues’ first football match, 3.4 million French people were behind the screens to follow them. Although these figures show public enthusiasm, the broadcasting rights have been waiting for a buyer for a long time.
The 2019 World Cup was supposed to be a turning point for professionalization, have we really witnessed the structuring of the sector, better conditions for players?
To answer this, François Saltiel receives Luc Arrondeleconomist and director of research at CNRS and co-author Football Money, Volume 3 – Women’s Football (Published by Rue d’Ulm 2023), Sandy Montalonalecturer in information and communication sciences at the University of Rennes 1 and Melissa Plazza, a former professional soccer player.
Late sale of TV rights, lack of interest?
Sandy Montanalalecturer of information and communication sciences, emphasizes the fear of unprofitability “Broadcasters are afraid that it will not be profitable, but there are a lot of men’s teams for which it is not profitable and for which we take the rights. And sports is also the channel’s notoriety, it is also the channel’s image. We don’t necessarily want to be profitable right away. And moreover, the price entry into broadcast women’s sports is generally lower. So the question of profitability is not so different in some cases from the question of men?” Moreover, Sandy Montanala states that the match broadcast is no longer in a “test”* state. “At every event and at every new World Cup, the media coverage is huge from the angle of will people like it and therefore deserve it?” Actually, this test has already been done. We don’t, I’m not going to test forever.
Luc Arrondeleconomist and director of research at CNRS, partly explains why it took so long to sell broadcasting rights.What happened there was that FIFA negotiated its TV rights independently of the Men’s World Cup. And I think with the success of the 2019 World Cup they were hoping to get a good price. What happened is that the first round which was the auction did not meet FIFA’s expectations. I think they were actually hoping for twenty million, especially in European countries. No one, no broadcaster has offered them this amount.”
Not enough resources?
Melissa Plaza, the former professional footballer first points out that the salaries are very low: “I noticed that, as far as the average salary is concerned, especially in D1, for women, we are around 4,000 euros gross per month. So, compared to guys who earn around 100,000 euros gross per month, you can see the incredible differences that prevail. . If we subtract the average for Lyon and PSG, we drop to an average of 2,000 euros gross per month.”
Luc Arrondel, economist, also notes that the federation has not taken sufficient measures since the 2019 World Cup. “French football did not benefit, and especially the federation did not use the organization of the 2019 World Cup to start its reforms, and especially the professionalization of its championship, unlike England.”
Melissa Plaza it goes deeper by determining the inequality between players. And this means that we have women who today do not live from football in D1, that is, at the highest national level, and who are obliged to have some work on the side, as supervisors in secondary schools, or as work at McDonald’s. So, we have women who, on the one hand, are pampered in big clubs, who are in the best position to play football and every weekend they face women who, moreover, are not at all professional, not at all in the same conditions. So that creates a championship that is non-competitive, non-competitive.”
Lack of quality among the players?
Luc Arrondelinsists on the problem of training female players, which would lead to a significant difference in level with men: “The problem is that there is an economic dimension to it. We cannot dispute the fact that, for example, in D1, in the women’s championship, only 800 spectators come per game on average. We talk about feminization, but there is still the problem of training and professionalization. I think that the demand history, the media coverage, will come later. I think the quality will increase after that, and I think the demand for live shows will increase. There’s still a supply problem.”
Melissa Plaza finished with straw**: “So, you tried, you tried in abundance and without ceremony, the ball at the foot of the track, SOS on the rubberized grass, carbon childhood, hatred for being born in the right place, but with the wrong people. So there you have it, football, saved you from doom, from complete darkness. But what you’re telling yourself is that Sunday never tasted like Saturday. They remind you of your wings when you become a professional. A contract that demands more from you than it owes you, an ungrateful contract, who cares what is illegal. A contract for 60 hours, half the minimum wage, luck, a contract with no salary, no stands, no dressing rooms, no honor, no money, no career, a contract, a contract and socks at 43. Come on, shut up, that’s all we have for you.”
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