The World Soccer Summit looks at whether 2022 will be a breakthrough year for women’s sports and gender equality. The theme of 2022 International Women’s Day (IWD) #BreakingTheBias resonates with the Victoria soccer community. Thanks to increased investment and sponsorship, women’s football have grown over the past couple of years. The 2022 Women’s European Championships will become the most significant European female sporting occasion yet. The World Cup in 2019 captured the hearts and minds of the British Government, with high levels of attendance, attendances and media exposure; Minister for Sport Nigel Huddlestone is confident the 2022 European Championships for women will inspire more women and girls to take up Women’s soccer while working to achieve parity in all sports. In this piece, Charlotte Smith and Adam Melling, sports professionals on the employment team at Walker Morris, discuss the growth in women’s football and related developments to the protections and benefits of contract players’ jobs in advance of the 2022-23 season.

In light of the rapid rate of women’s football growth, clubs may wish to consider moving to greater professionalisation in the setup of their women’s teams, including reviewing contracts held with their players, coaches and football personnel. From being a predominantly male-dominated sport played by men and watched by men for many, many decades, things are changing rapidly, with more female commentators, experts and hosts involved than ever before in both the male and female broadcasting of soccer, making all coverage seem more diverse and contemporary, whilst also improving the quality. Now, young girls are growing up knowing that professional football is a viable career choice. With millions of fans tuning into the Barclays FA Women’s Super League and other competitions each month, thanks to TV deals with the BBC and Sky Sports, women’s football is going from strength to strength.

Football has become the most played team sport by women and girls in England, with more than three million registered players. With 62 teams and more than 2,100 players, WFA has created opportunities for women to compete in the game at every level and explore it. The WFAs deal with ESPN is expected to expose the league to a larger audience and open more doors for corporate investors, furthering the goal of providing women with the opportunity to participate in the most excellent game in the United States.

Major brands have supported the sport, with Wilson, KT Tape, Xenith, AdeNation, and Secret becoming WFAs national sponsors. The Women’s Super League has also recently announced it is investing PS1.75 million a year over the next three years into The FA’s new Girls Emerging Talent Hubs Network, aimed at developing existing youth football programmes across England. At the top end of women’s football, construction is ongoing at The Matilda’s home, which will provide world-class facilities at La Trobe University to unlock the full potential of our national teams and pathways programmes. The entirety of the 2015 season for the Legends Soccer League is being broadcast on Fuse, whilst Women’s Football Alliance (WFA), one of the country’s premier women’s semi-pro tackle soccer leagues, will have its Championship matches broadcast on only ESPN2.