In France, “the future of women’s football depends on the quality of its broadcast”

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The quality of the broadcast of the matches of the D1 Arkema, the highest division of the French women’s football championship, overwhelms the followers. The symptom according to them of the gradual dropout of France compared to its neighbors in the discipline.

For the opening game of the 12e day between PSG and Rodez Friday, January 13, viewers of D1 Arkema, the first division of women’s football in France, had the unpleasant surprise of watching the match on a poorly lit Camp des Loges pitch. The next day, during the clash between Guingamp and Le Havre, it was raindrops that blocked the cameras. A series of malfunctions that prompted the Footeuses media to sound the alarm.

Launched in 2018 in the wake of the Women’s World Cup organized in France, this media, which aims to highlight women’s football, published an open letter on Thursday January 19. Entitled “Let’s respect and consider women’s football in France”, it calls on “all the actors concerned [à prendre] awareness of the real shortcomings of women’s football in our country”.

The letter has been read more than 400,000 times on social media since its publication: “Since then, we have had a hundred testimonies: people who tell us that they stop watching women’s football because it has become unwatchable. D Others who have decided to stop playing because women’s teams are always the last wheel of the coach in terms of infrastructure and land,” explains Clément Gauvin, co-founder of Footeuses. “We are daily spectators of women’s football and we have been seeing very worrying signals for weeks and months. The quality of the broadcast alerts us every weekend. These are things you never see in any other sport. he future of the discipline depends on the quality of dissemination.”

Canal + boot in touch

On the side of the broadcaster, Canal +, we deplore this lack of quality and the technical hiccups, while ensuring that we cannot do better in the face of the discontent of subscribers.

“We are obviously disappointed with the show offered to our subscribers last weekend but, unfortunately, we are facing difficulties that do not depend on Canal +. For four years, [notre groupe] do our best to promote D1 but we cannot move forward alone: ​​the FFF and the clubs must raise the standards and professionalize the Championship”, thus assures Thomas Sénécal, director of Sports of Canal +, to the Team. “Too many D1 stadiums do not have sufficient infrastructure to allow us to ensure quality recording: sometimes we do not know where to install our cameras, they are not protected from the weather, or we have lighting problems.

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“It is true that the poor quality of the broadcast is primarily due to the poor quality of the infrastructure. When the teams play in small stadiums, it is very complicated to ensure broadcast. You need scaffolding and nacelles placed near the stadium to have a point of view to make a wide shot. But sometimes it doesn’t work so the camera stays low to the ground and the image is bad”, concedes Clément Gauvin.

“However, that does not explain everything. A women’s match by Canal + is two cameras. For boys, it’s 31 cameras”, recalls the co-founder of Footeuses. ” There is a lack of professionalism on the part of Canal +. These are commentators who do not know women’s football. They are mistaken in the names of the players. Players alert their network to the fact that their name is scratched , on factual errors…”

No broadcasters six months from the deadline

A deadline crystallizes the concerns of French women’s football followers. Canal +’s broadcasting contract ends at the end of the season. Since 2018, he paid 1.2 million euros per season, an amount multiplied by six compared to the previous contract. But the dynamic risks drying up in France, since, according to a file from the Team, the broadcasters are far from jostling at the gate. However, at the same time, TV rights, one of the most important financial windfalls for clubs, have exploded in other leagues and in particular in England: Sky Sports and the BBC pay 8 million pounds per season (9.1 M€ ), with a partial free-to-air broadcast.

“There is a lack of interest on the part of Canal + with these broadcasting rights which have not yet been bought six months from the due date. We risk ending up with a ridiculous price compared to what makes abroad” criticizes Clément Gauvin. “The political decision-makers must get involved in the file. We cannot be in a situation where, six months from the end of the contract, we have no broadcaster.”

France is historically a stronghold of women’s football in Europe. Paris Saint-Germain and especially Olympique Lyonnais are the locomotives of the French championship, winning all the championship titles between them since 2007. OL have even lifted the Champions League 8 times during this same period.

“We were ahead of other European countries. The lack of public policies is now being felt and we are being overtaken by all the countries that have invested”, points out Clément Gauvin, who makes the comparison with England.

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“Across the Channel, they were able to capitalize on the organization of Euro 2022. We didn’t do it after the 2019 World Cup. All the big English teams play in the boys’ stadiums, which allows a real promotion. They manage to bring together between 30 and 40,000 people, or even more when the national team plays”, praises the co-founder of Footeuses. “They are very present on the networks. They have succeeded in creating enthusiasm in the stadiums, in particular through an ultra-interesting pricing policy.”

An observation in tune with that drawn up by Wendy Renard last September in the Team: “Behind the 2019 World Cup in France, we did not manage to ride this positive wave, regretted the captain of OL. it was not just the Covid: we did not manage to keep this momentum and we are stagnating”, explained the star of the Blue.

In addition to the problems of retransmission, it is often the quality of the lawns where the footballers exercise their talent which are often singled out. A lack of infrastructure which is not without consequence for the players. Citing a 2021 study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, Footeuses recalls that the quality of the infrastructure used by women’s teams exposes them twice as much to serious injuries as their male counterparts.

“We must give women’s football the means to succeed. If we do nothing, there is a risk of degradation and dropping out”, concludes Clément Gauvin.



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