Men’s vs. Women’s World Cup Readership

Nikki Chellaswami, Insights Analysts

August 30th, 2023

Anticipation for the World Cup builds every four years before the world’s most talented soccer (or football) players take to the global stage. With the Men’s World Cup in Qatar late 2022 and Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand just wrapping up, we wanted to compare readership between the two and see if there were any insights we could derive from the data. Keep reading for a few highlights (or lowlights, depending on how you look at it).

The Women’s World Cup Team was more widely covered by U.S. national news outlets albeit mostly negative.

The U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT) saw nearly 8x more coverage than the men’s in national U.S. news outlets. However, the heightened media attention also resulted in more scrutiny around the team. Most-read articles surrounding the USWNT focused on the loss to Sweden which ended the team’s World Cup journey and political backlash against the team.

The Women’s World Cup saw greater interest in matters outside of the sport itself.

Average readership was highest for coverage around politics and controversy for the Women’s World Cup, as Donald Trump cheered the defeat of the USWNT and conservative backlash over the team’s “wokeness”. Readers were also drawn to articles discussing pay equity, gender equality in terms of men’s vs. women’s soccer and sports more broadly, the LGBTQ+ community within the sport, specific players’ sexuality, “soccer moms,” and female empowerment.

Readership gained momentum when Luis Rubiales, President of the Royal Spanish Football Federation, kissed one of the players at the medal ceremony without consent after grabbing his crotch in a vulgar victory celebration next to 16-year-old Spanish Princess Infanta Sofía.

The Men’s World Cup still draws higher readership, particularly in relation to male players.

The 2022 Men’s World Cup saw 26% more readers on national outlets compared to the 2023 Women’s World Cup, highly fueled by the death of sports journalist Grant Wahl while covering the World Cup in Qatar and player coverage. Men’s players attracted more than 2x the readership of women’s players, especially surrounding Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.


Men’s soccer and athletes still attract much higher readership than women’s sports and athletes. While the women’s team was much more widely covered, narratives around the team and corresponding readership was driven by a plethora of topics, few of which related to the actual sport.

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