More than half (59%) of the population admit they have never attended a live female sporting event, compared to just over a quarter (29%) having never attended a live men’s event. The figures come as new research that examines the public’s attitudes towards attending female sports, in advance of the commencement of the 2024 Lidl National Football League season.
Lidl and the LGFA’s new campaign to increase attendances comes as the 2024 Lidl National League campaign is about to get underway, which gives ample opportunities for the public to attend top class female sport in every county in the country over the coming weeks, including the mouth-watering clash between last season’s top two teams, Dublin and Kerry, in the opening round of Division 1 action on Sunday 20th January.
BARRIERS TO LARGER ATTENDANCE
The research carried out by Red C in December 2023 also reveals that despite 42% of people stating an interest in attending a female sporting event, three quarters (74%) of those surveyed think it is a shame that people don’t attend.
Going head-to-head, Irish people are five times more likely to attend a premier men’s event in person than an equivalent premier female event, with almost half (46%) saying that men’s sport is generally better to watch. A staggering 59% of Irish people said they would prefer to watch men’s sport on TV than attend a live female sporting event.
Out of the 25% of the population who do attend live female sporting events, spectators are more likely to be male (57%) than female (43%) and aged between 35-54-years. Parents of participating children are also more active in attending female fixtures.
Lack of media coverage is perceived to negatively affect public awareness and support, with some 40% stating this as a reason for non-attendance at live women’s events. Almost two thirds (65%) of people think women’s sport does not get enough media coverage in Ireland and 83% agree that men’s sport is covered more comprehensively.
Other barriers to attending female sports events included venues not being easy to get to (37%), not knowing anyone that is playing (34%) and ticket prices being too high (34%), but perceptions and unconscious bias around women’s sport in Ireland continue to be key barriers.
Almost half of Irish people (46%) believe that men’s sport is generally better to watch than women’s sport. Whilst Irish people perceive women’s sports in Ireland to be high quality and skilful, they think it’s less exciting or competitive than men’s sports and over a third (38%) think that the standard of play isn’t high enough to justify attendance at live matches.
Establishing connections with individual sports stars is seen to be a key driver of support but half of people think there is a lack of Irish female sporting heroes. When asked which Irish female sports stars they can name, almost half of respondents said Katie Taylor, having recently been awarded ‘Ireland’s Most Admired’ sportsperson for the seventh consecutive year, however less than 1 in 10 people were able to name any other Irish female sporting stars unprompted.
The current record for attendance at a female sporting event in Ireland is 56,114 supporters who attended the 2019 TG4 All Ireland Ladies Gaelic Football finals while the record for attendance at a women’s soccer international match was set in 2023, with 35,944 spectators. However, outside of showcase events, attendance figures are not consistently strong for female sporting events.
Commenting on the findings, Mícheál Naughton, LGFA President, said: “The findings are certainly revealing and it’s now incumbent on people to get behind the fight and ensure greater attendances at our fixtures in 2024. It’s an exciting year for the LGFA as we celebrate our 50th anniversary on July 18th and it promises to be another memorable campaign as our counties battle it out for Lidl National League honours before attention switches to the championship season.
“I would like to wish all of our players the very best of luck as they get ready to commence a new season and, as always, a huge word of thanks to Lidl Ireland, our National League sponsors and official retail partner, for their ongoing support.”
The Lidl National Football League gets under way this coming weekend. Division 4 fixtures begin on Sunday, 14th January, whilst counties competing in Divisions 1, 2 and 3 will commence their respective campaigns on the weekend of January 20th/January 21st.
The LGFA and TG4 have confirmed live coverage of 13 fixtures, via linear TV and the Spórt TG4 YouTube page, commencing with the Dublin-Kerry clash from Parnell Park on Saturday January 20th.
Peil na mBan Beo will be available to audiences globally on the TG4 Player at www.tg4.ie/beo and on the TG4 Mobile and Smart TV App.