Barcelona Femeni of Spain attacker, Asisat Oshoala is part of the new array of women players enjoying the boom being provided by the Iberia nation, which is investing much into the progress of female football.
Oshoala has enjoyed the massive boost for female football to a large extent already, as he side will this weekend play their first ever UEFA Champions League final against Olympique Lyon of France.
The match on Saturday comes two months after Oshoala and her Barca teammates were part of a game in which a European record crowd of 60,739 spectators watched them against Atletico Madrid at Wanda Metropolitano Stadium in the Spanish capital.
A month earlier, 48,121 attended Athletic Bilbao’s FA Cup game against Atletico at San Mames, which was a figure that saw more people than at any of the men’s games in the Basque city this season.
A report indicates that the idea supporters might watch their women’s team, in the same ground and just as often, as the men’s side, remains a distant concept in most of Europe’s elite football nations.
Yet Spain has stridden ahead, perhaps in part because fans support their clubs holistically, eager to cheer on the youth teams, basketball teams and, now, women’s teams too.
But popularity still looked unlikely as recently as 2015, before 13 clubs joined together to form the Association of Women’s Football Clubs (ACFF) and, under the charge of La Liga, began moving forward.
La Liga’s director of women’s football, Pedro Malabia said: “It would have been unthinkable three years ago to be playing games in these huge stadiums.
“But we think that within four or five years we can be doing this once a month or even once every two weeks.
“The first thing we had to change was the visibility. And second, we had to improve the product.”
Incidentally, the boom Oshoala is enjoying has come after a popular utilities firm, Iberdrola signed a deal in 2016 to be the league’s main sponsor while in March, Mediapro extended its contract to broadcast women’s football in Spain until 2022.
Television swiftly transformed the numbers. Last year, 7 million tuned in cumulatively over the season’s 117 games and, just halfway through the current season, that figure quickly reached 5 million.
Each year, La Liga Iberdrola now makes 7 million euros, 3 million from Mediapro, 2 million from Iberdrola and a further 2 million from La Liga, with massive fall-outs rolling in for Oshoala, who is currently on loan at Barcelona from Dalian Quanjian of China.
Iberdrola’s director of global sponsorship, Elisa Yarte: “We wanted to make football available to everyone, not just men. We have seen it boom and very much hope it will continue.”