How to Be a Women’s Football Agent and the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup
Women’s football continues to be an exciting and ever expanding form of the beautiful game. This time next month we will be over a week into the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, an enormous event in the women’s game, and the world of football as a whole. Therefore, perhaps it is time to revisit the everchanging women’s football landscape and this blog will outline the upcoming world cup as well as some significant talking points around the game at the moment including the summer transfer window and the suggestion of including training compensation measures.
The World Cup
The 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup begins in Auckland, New Zealand on the 20th July. The match, contested by the co-hosts, New Zealand, and Norway marks the beginning of a month-long tournament that will culminate in the final held at the Sydney Olympic Stadium in Australia on the 20th August.
A significant sign of the progress being made by the rising infrastructure, equality and investment in the women’s game is that the 2023 edition will now consist of 32 teams in the same format as the traditional men’s version of the tournament. This is the result of FIFA’s proposal following a record-breaking successful tournament in 2019. Part of this proposal was to expand the number of competing teams as well as more-than-doubling the prize money available to competing nations.
Such changes have broadened opportunities for improving countries to compete and qualify for the world cup and will have a positive impact on the growing reach and professionalism of women’s football. It is also likely that the tournament will once again break the attendance record for a women’s tournament as the 64 games will be held in stadiums with capacities ranging between 18,000 and 83,000.
Tournament organisers have put in strategies to try to achieve a global audience engagement of 2 billion, further promoted by lucrative endorsements and partnerships with major universal brands such as Adidas, Coca-Cola, Hyundai, Visa, Unilever and McDonald’s. Additional investment has meant that nations will now compete for their share of $110m, an enormous rise from the $30m that was allocated to the 2019 tournament. This means that the winning member association will receive a total of $10.5m, almost half of which will be available for reinvestment into the women’s game in their country. Any country which fails to qualify for the knock-out rounds will still secure $1.56m for their respective nation’s women’s football investment. Such large numbers indicate the growing commercial and financial viability of the women’s game and the exciting direction in which it is heading for the future.
One important point to note is that, although this is the first women’s tournament held in Oceania, it is the third overall in the Asia-Pacific region. This is significant as the men’s tournament is still yet to ever be held in this part of the world. Perhaps these is a unique opportunity for women’s football here particularly and may mean further growth for the game in the wake of the tournament. Men’s football competes with other sports in New Zealand and Australia that can sometimes be viewed as more popular, such as rugby, cricket, and Australian Rules Football. For women’s football, more of an emphasis and priority is possible and opens an opportunity for the game to become the most popular female sport in the region.
What Else is Changing?
Before we move on to discussing why training compensation is not yet a part of women’s football, it is important to understand the current landscape of the transfer market in the game. In 2020, the Danish forward, Pernille Harder, broke the world transfer record for a woman with her £250,000 transfer to Chelsea. Since then, Lauren James’ transfer from Manchester United to Chelsea in 2021 for £200,000 and then the new record of Keira Walsh’s Manchester City to Barcelona move for £400,000 in 2022 shows how the women’s transfer market is simultaneously rising alongside the growing popularity of the game. Salaries are also ever-increasing as we will touch upon later although there is still a significant way to go in some regions as Women’s Super League players in England still only receive an average annual wage of around £25,000.
The women’s summer transfer window lasts across the same months as the men’s equivalent, from June until September in different markets and has already been busier than ever. It is becoming more and more common every year for heightened transfer gossip and widespread rumours regarding high profile players transferring between the top women’s clubs. Although domestic transfers are still the most popular form of transfer, internationally recognised clubs such as Barcelona and Bayern Munich, alongside others, are attracting international transfers and showing interest in the top players from across the women’s international stage. Upon the date of writing, there have been a total of 129 deals completed across Europe’s top 5 female leagues; the English WSL, Spanish Liga F, German Frauen-Bundesliga, French Division 1 Feminine, and the Italian Serie A Femminile. Amongst the most active clubs include high-status European giants in both men’s and women’s football such as Arsenal, Paris Saint Germain, Roma, Chelsea, Juventus, Wolfsburg and Manchester United.
The exponentially increasing international and domestic activity in the women’s football transfer landscape suggests that it can only be a matter of time before governing bodies ought to consider how best to implement training compensation measures in the women’s game. Currently, training compensation and the solidarity mechanism are only applied in men’s football in order to ensure clubs that produce top academy players are adequately rewarded. You can read more details on these mechanisms and how they work by clicking here.
The main reason why it may now make sense to bring in training compensation obligations for buying clubs is that such a high number of transfers within the market means that smaller clubs who may have trained and produced top talents are now losing their best academy products to larger clubs. These large clubs are likely to also be able to pay training compensation, if this was required of them. Perhaps then, if these clubs were obliged to make additional payments to the parent club of the player, this would not only increase competitiveness of smaller clubs in the women’s game but also encourage the investment into and development of academy systems and programmes. However, the system would have to carefully plan and consider the kind of figures and numbers appropriate for deals in the women’s game and decide upon the fairest way of utilising a training compensation mechanism for all stakeholders.
For example, it would have substantially damaging effects on the women’s transfer market and the game as a whole if clubs were demanded to pay up to $75m in training compensation, as was the case in the 2019 men’s market. Setting obligations with excessive financial demands and inappropriate training costs would simply deter clubs from engaging with the transfer market and stall the growth of women’s football business.
What the Growing Game Means for Agents
With the rising value of employment contracts and transfers, agents are now more likely and able to engage with female clients and will help to negotiate and source their playing contracts. Both the commercial and the football aspects of players is now an attractive source of commission for agents.
Being an agent in the women’s game is, in many ways, the same as in the men’s game but it also has its own unique demands and skill requirements. It is an exciting prospect for agents to engage in women’s football going forward as it is a market that will continue to increase in popularity and attractiveness to football fans, sponsors, broadcasters, investors, media and on a global scale. For agents this can pose an enticing opportunity for us to challenge ourselves and our skill sets and apply them to a unique industry in a slightly different and adapted way but to attain the same objectives; to optimise the on and off-field potential and maximise the success of our clients.
On and off-field opportunities are emerging with increasing frequency as the women’s game continues to grow. As of 2022, the salaries for men and women in the US national team have been made equal in line with US Employment Law as a result of the USA women’s team’s case. This indicates the extent to which women’s football is gaining greater traction, influence and power within the world of football and is still viewed as a growing and developing entity. However, this is only applicable on a national level and club salaries do not reflect the same principle. Nevertheless, it has become an industry that could offer lucrative rewards for football agents as it continues this exponential expansion. Some of the top American women players now earn several hundreds of thousands per year and this number is set to rise and become more commonplace in the game.
Beyond the possible income source, it can also provide an exhilarating challenge for agents as the role of an agent in women’s football requires slightly adjusted approaches, techniques, methods and applications compared to player representation in the men’s game.
As with the men’s version, agents venturing into women’s football must provide a full 360°, holistic service to their clients. Their responsibilities go far beyond just negotiating a football contract. The branding and marketing of a client is absolutely imperative. An agent must be able to utilise their client’s commercial potential and help them create a marketable brand or ‘identity’. This also includes finding a suitable sponsorship path such as with clothing brands or big boot deals.
In summary, we would urge agents, scouts, and other sports professionals and enthusiasts to engage willingly with the exciting prospect that the women’s game has been for many years now and the quickly expanding entity it continues to be. The upcoming world cup once again has the opportunity to further launch women’s football further than ever before and brings with it a broad array of opportunities. Governing bodies and stakeholders will continually have to readjust regulations and systems to adapt to the rising commercial, financial, and social status of the game and it is important to follow the changes and the impact they have as and when they happen.
For more information and to learn about all different aspects of the football industry and the sports agency profession, such as how to become a football agent, be sure to follow our platforms on social media and visit our website to read more blogs.
Don’t forget we are also running an online course providing the perfect preparation for how to pass the FIFA football agent exam on the 12th August. You can register for the course by clicking here. Alternatively, for readers based in Germany, we are also conducting an in-person event in Frankfurt on the 2nd September which you can register for by clicking here.