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Women’s sport: New research finds more than 80% of sports fans are interested

Manchester City and England captain Steph Houghton was the most recognisable female team athlete in the UK

A major new global study has found that 84% of general sports fans – more than half of whom are men – are interested in women’s sport.

The research by Nielsen Sports, which was carried out across the UK, USA, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Australia and New Zealand, reports 51% of male fans are engaged in women’s sport.

Of the general population – both male and female – of the eight countries, 64% have an interest in at least one women’s sport.

However, interest levels were higher in sports where men’s and women’s events are staged together – for example, athletics or tennis – as opposed to being staged separately, like in golf, cricket or football.

The study, which surveyed 1,000 people from each country, also found that women’s sport is seen as more ‘inspiring’, ‘progressive’, ‘family-oriented’ and ‘clean’ than men’s sport, while the latter is seen as being more ‘money-driven’.

Almost 50% of women think women’s sport is competitive, compared to 44% of men, while 41% of women and 31% of men find it inspiring.

What else did the research find?

Tennis’ 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams was the most recognised female athlete in five of the eight countries

Aside from their multitude of Olympic gold medals, what do Serena Williams, Jessica Ennis-Hill and Laura Kenny have in common?

Answer: they are the most recognisable female athletes to the UK population, according to Neilsen Sports’ research.

As for female team athletes, Manchester City and England captain Steph Houghton and World Cup-winning cricketers Heather Knight and Anya Shrubsole come out on top.

While interest in women’s football stands at just 43%, that figure still equates to a potential fanbase of 105m across the eight countries.

Almost half (43%) of the general population across the eight countries said they would consider attending a live women’s sport event, compared to 63% for a men’s event.

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