by Stella Ong

Scoring Goals

The FIFA Women’s World Cup is one of the biggest sporting events ever to take place on New Zealand soil. And while investing in sports generally has become highly profitable, it’s women’s sport that is set for steep growth globally.

Although the New Zealand soccer team failed to win a point at the last women’s World Cup four years ago, hopes are higher as they prepare to kick off the 2023 tournament on home soil, tonight, against Norway. Their final public warm-up match saw them beat Vietnam, their first win in New Zealand since 2012, further raising expectations.

Despite ticket sales being slower than hoped for in New Zealand, the Football Ferns are set to grace what is 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.

Japanese tennis player Naomi Osaka, 25, makes US$50m a year off the field, with deals with the likes of $NKE, $NSANY and $MA. Australian soccer star Sam Kerr, 29, has an endorsement deal with $NKE, while she also has relationships with $EA and $CBA. 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.

Portrait photo of Stella Ong, Markets Analyst at Stake.

Stella Ong

Markets Analyst

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.


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