The FIFA Women’s World Cup is one of the biggest sporting events ever to take place on Australian soil. And while investing in sports generally has become highly profitable, if the excitement surrounding this tournament is anything to go by, it’s women’s sport that is set for steep growth globally.
Go back four years and Sam Kerr was making history. The soccer superstar became the first-ever Australian – woman or man – to net a World Cup hat-trick. In fact, she scored not three but four goals as the Matildas beat Jamaica at the 2019 tournament.
Fast forward to 2023 and Kerr, a four-time nominee for the Ballon D’Or (the world’s best player award), is no doubt hoping for another inspired performance as Australia open their World Cup campaign in Sydney on Thursday night.
Kerr is set to grace what’s predicted to be the most attended standalone women’s sporting event in history. The World Cup is also projected by FIFA to smash records for global viewership numbers, reflecting the growth of soccer around the world.
In the U.S., Sixth Street and a group of investors including former $META COO Sheryl Sandberg have this year put in a combined US$53m to form a team in the National Women’s Soccer League. The fact a team could have been bought for between US$2m and US$5m a few years earlier shows just how much the sport is on the rise.
And it’s not only women’s soccer grabbing the attention of American investors. Last year, the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) raised US$75m. And in February, the Seattle Storm franchise was valued at a record US$151m – about 15 times the sale price of several WNBA teams sold previously – after minority stakes were bought in the team.
While there are still major concerns over the gender pay gap, including at this World Cup, there are more opportunities than ever for female athletes across different sports to seal large sponsorship deals. U.S. women’s professional sports sponsorships grew 20% year-on-year in 2022, with this number expected to increase again in 2023.
Kerr, 29, has an endorsement deal with $NKE, while she also has relationships with $EA and $CBA. Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka, 25, makes US$50m a year off the field, with deals with the likes of $NKE, $NSANY and $MA. And Chinese-American freestyle skier Eileen Gu, 19, made more than US$20m last year through endorsements and sponsorships.
The positive impact of backing women’s sport is irrefutable for brands, and the opportunities are only set to grow and grow for female athletes – and investors – across a wide variety of sports.
Stella is a markets analyst and writer with almost a decade of investing experience. With a Masters in Accounting from the University of Sydney, she specialises in financial statement analysis and financial modelling. Previously, she worked as an equity analyst at Australian finance start-up, Simply Wall St, where she took charge of the market insights newsletter sent out to over a million subscribers. At Stake, Stella has been key to producing the weekly Wrap articles and social media content.