Women's Football Benchmarking Report


Leagues around the world have adopted various formats, innovative technologies and have different characteristics, each with their own merits. At club level, the prevalence of youth academies recognises the importance of developing talent in the women’s game and provides pathways for young women and girls.

Of leagues required coaches to hold a Pro or A Licence. However, clubs were typically exceeding these requirements, with 69% of coaches holding an A Licence or above.

Of players per league had five or more international caps for their women’s national team. The highest proportion of these players (more than 30%) are in German, French, Italian, Spanish and US leagues, which are among the top leagues.

Average number of matches played per league

Average number of teams per league: ranging from 8 to 20

League characteristics

It is important to optimise the format and size of leagues. The structure of leagues has reached a certain degree of maturity, with key characteristics such as the average number of teams per league, the matches played and the length of seasons remaining relatively constant to those seen previously.

Argentina remains the largest league by number of teams (20) and the Mexican Liga MX Femenil had by far the most matches played (336), which remained unchanged from the 2020-2021 season.

Furthermore, higher revenue-generating leagues were more likely to adopt referee communication systems, with more mature leagues typically having greater financial resources to allocate to new areas of the game (such as officiating technologies).

Technology implemented by leagues and referee communication system

Sporting competitiveness

One indicator of sporting competitiveness was the number of teams that have won the league in the most recent three seasons. Those leagues where different teams won the league, which may be deemed to be more competitive or unpredictable, saw a higher number of average social media followers (855k) compared to those where there had been only one winner in the past three seasons (124k), which perhaps shows a more engaged audience.

Furthermore, clubs that had won the league in the past three seasons compared to those who had not won the league typically had a higher:

Proportion of girl-only academies as opposed to mixed

Number of girls in the academy

Proportion of players with five or more international caps for the women’s national team

Average contractual salary for players (v. USD 17k) – these figures exclude clubs that did not compete in a top-tier league in the past three completed seasons, which averaged USD 12k.

Head coaches – gender and licence requirements

A further demonstration of professionalism is the license that head coaches are required to hold.

Leagues required head coaches to hold a Pro or A Licence (63%). Clubs typically exceeded these requirements, with 69% of head coaches holding an A Licence or above. With respect to gender, the proportion of female head coaches remains at approximately a quarter (23% v. 26% in the 2020-2021 season).

Sonia Bompastor and the Women's Champions League trophy her first as a coach