Women’s football fans want full-time refs and goal-line tech

goal technology test
Referee tests goal-line technology. (Photo: Warren Little/Getty Images)

An FSA survey says that supporters of the women’s game want to see full-time referees and goal-line technology introduced.

Fans of the women’s game want to see an improvement in the standard of officiating, with almost nine out of ten (87.6%) in favour of the introduction of full-time referees according to the results of the Women’s Game Survey conducted by the Football Supporters’ Association (FSA).

In a survey of more than 2,000 fans from across the women’s game, half of the respondents (55.1%) disagreed with the statement ‘the standard of refereeing is acceptable in women’s football’.

But VAR is not the answer as a third of fans (32.8%) opposed its potential introduction, while there was much stronger support for the introduction of goal-line technology (74.3%) to aid decision making.

Fans from 49 of the 51 clubs in the top four tiers of the pyramid, and more beyond, gave their opinions on a host of subjects from their matchday experience and relationships with their clubs to financial redistribution in the game and the upcoming Women’s Euros.

Improvement still needed?

Increased visibility and improved coverage of the women’s game is bringing more supporters to the sport, however, fans still do not believe there is sufficient coverage of the game in the media.

Four out of five respondents (81.5%) agreed that TV coverage of the sport had improved on the back of the new landmark TV deal signed by Sky Sports and the BBC, and almost two thirds of fans (60.7%) are watching/streaming more football than before.

Despite this, only a quarter (26%) agreed that there was sufficient coverage of the game on mainstream media/TV, and similar (26.6%) said that there was sufficient coverage of their team in local media.

Other stats:

  • Nine out of ten fans (89.4%) agreed that there should be more money redistributed from the men’s game to support the growth of the women’s game
  • One in eight respondents (12.6%) identified as being a fan of a women’s team only, while 87.4% said they also followed a men’s team
  • The greatest barriers to greater matchday attendance were the cost/distance of travel (37%), work commitments (20%), games clashing with men’s fixtures (15%) and TV kick-off time moves (14%)
  • Mirroring long-standing complaints in the men’s game, more than three quarters (77.3%) of fans said that TV has too much say in when games kick off
  • Four out of ten fans surveyed (42%) had already bought tickets to this summer’s Euros, with a further one in five (20%) saying they planned to.
WSL match officials
Pedro Soares/Sports Press Photo

Deborah Dilworth, the FSA’s women’s game network manager, said: “The referees in the women’s game are professionals, but as the game grows and improves in all areas fans can clearly see the benefit of making them full-time to help the women’s game reach its full potential.

“This survey has also highlighted some significant issues that are important to supporters, and we will use the findings to support the progress that is already being made by the FSA in the women’s game, as well as to identify the focus for new areas of work.

“Our aim is to repeat this survey in future years which will help us benchmark and track changing attitudes on key issues, as well as keeping up to date with new developments specific to the women’s game as they arise.”

The full 16 page report into the survey, which includes demographics and other statistics can be found at: https://thefsa.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/FSA-Womens-Game-Survey-2022.pdf 

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