The Key Role of Sport Policies for the Popularity of Women’s Sports: A Case Study on Women’s Soccer in Germany

in Sociology of Sport Journal
View More View Less
  • 1 University of Münster
Restricted access

Purchase article

USD  $24.95

Student 1 year online subscription

USD  $65.00

1 year online subscription

USD  $87.00

Student 2 year online subscription

USD  $123.00

2 year online subscription

USD  $165.00

Athletic success in women’s sports, in particular in women’s soccer, is strongly linked to macrolevel gender equality within societies. There is also evidence that macrolevel gender equality matters for sport consumption. This study explored the role of mesolevel institutions for the popularity of women’s soccer. The example of reunified Germany illustrates that macrolevel gender equality might be less important for the popularity of women’s sport than mesolevel gender equality, that is, policy priorities adopted by sport associations and other actors involved in sport policymaking. The study comes with practical implications for the future popularity of women’s soccer.

The authors are with the University of Münster, Münster, Germany.

Address author correspondence to Henk Erik Meier at Henk.Erik.Meier@uni-muenster.de
  • Babad, E., (2001). On the conception and measurement of popularity: More facts and some straight conclusions. Social Psychology on Education, 5(1), 329. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ballinger, G.A. (2004). Using generalized estimating equations for longitudinal data analysis. Organizational Research Methods, 7, 127150. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Barth, A., & Trübner, M., (2018). Structural stability, quantitative change: A latent class analysis approach towards gender role attitudes in Germany. Social Science Research, 72, 183193. PubMed ID: 29609738. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bauernschuster, S. & Rainer, H. (2011). Political regimes and the family: How sex-roles continue to differ in unified Germany. Journal of Population Economy, 25, 527. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Berri, D.J., Schmidt, M.B., & Brook, S.L. (2004). Stars at the gate. The impact of star power on NBA gate revenues. Journal of Sports Economics, 5, 3350. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Borland, J., & MacDonald, R. (2003). Demand for sport. Oxford Review of Economic Policy, 19, 478502. doi:

  • Brandes, L., Franck, E., & Nüesch, S. (2008). Local heroes and superstars: An empirical analysis of star attraction in German soccer. Journal of Sports Economics, 9(3), 266286. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Brändle, F., & Koller, C. (2002). Goal! Kultur- und Sozialgeschichte des modernen Fussballs. Zürich, Switzerland: Orell Füssli.

  • Braun, M., Scott, J., & Alwyn, D.F. (1994). Economic necessity or self-actualization? Attitudes toward women’s labour-force participation in East and West Germany. European Sociological Review, 10, 2947. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Budde, G.-F. (2000). Der Körper der “sozialistischen Frauenpersönlichkeit:” Weiblichkeitvorstellungen in der SBZ und frühen DDR. Geschichte und Gesellschaft, 26, 602628. PubMed ID: 19127693

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Budig, M.J., Misra, J., & Boeckmann, I. (2016). Work-family policy trade-offs for mothers? Unpacking the cross-national variation in motherhood earnings penalties. Work and Occupations, 43(2), 119177. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Buraimo, B., & Simmons, R. (2008). Do sports fans really value uncertainty of outcome? Evidence from the English Premier League. International Journal of Sport Finance, 3, 146155.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Busse, A., & Gathmann, C. (2018). Free daycare and its effects on children and their families. IZA Discussion Paper No. 11269.

  • Campbell, A.L. (2012). Policy makes mass politics. Annual Review of Political Science, 15, 333351. doi:

  • Caudwell, J. (2006). Women playing football at clubs in England with socio-political associations. Soccer & Society, 7(4), 423438. doi:

  • Caudwell, J., (2011). Gender, feminism and football studies. Soccer & Society, 12(3), 330344.

  • Ciccia, R., & Bleijenberg, I. (2014). After the male breadwinner model? Childcare services and the division of Labor in European Countries. Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State, and Society, 21, 5079. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Czarnitzki, D., & Stadtmann, G. (2002). Uncertainty of outcome versus reputation: Empirical evidence for the First German Football Division. Empirical Economics, 27, 101112. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • da Costa, L.M. (2014). Beauty, effort and talent: A brief history of Brazilian women’s soccer in press discourse. Soccer & Society, 15(1), 8192. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Dieckhoff, M., Gash, V., Mertens, A., & Gordo, L.R., (2016). A stalled revolution? What can we learn from women’s drop-out to part-time jobs: A comparative analysis of Germany and the UK. Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, 46, 129140. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Dunn, C. (2016). Football and the women’s World Cup: Organisation, media and fandom. Houndsmill, UK: Palgrave.

  • Eisenberg, C. (1997). Deutschland. In C. Eisenberg (Ed.), Fußball, soccer, calcio: ein englischer Sport auf seinem Weg um die Welt (pp. 94129). München, Germany: DTV.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • European Commission. (2017). Women in the labour market: European semester thematic factsheet. Brussels, Belgium: European Commission.

  • Eurostat. (2018). Gender pay gap statistics. Eurostat. Retrieved from https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/pdfscache/6776.pdf

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • FIFA. (n.d.). Weltrangliste (Frauen). Retrieved from https://de.fifa.com/fifa-world-ranking/ranking-table/women/

  • Fink, J.S. (2015). Female athletes, women’s sport, and the sport media commercial complex: Have we really “come a long way, baby?” Sport Management Review, 18, 331342. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Franck, E., & Nüesch, S. (2012). Talent and/or popularity: What does it take to be a superstar? Economic Inquiry, 50(1), 202216. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Franck, E., & Nüesch, S. (2008). Mechanisms of superstar formation in German soccer: Empirical evidence. European Sport Management Quarterly, 8(2), 145164. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. (2005, August 31). Schröder möchte mehr Frauen-Fußball sehen. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, p. 30.

  • Frick, B., & Wicker, P. (2016). The trickle-down effect: How elite sporting success affects amateur participation in German football. Applied Economics Letters, 23(4), 259263. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Fuchs, M. (2018). Regionale Lohnunterschiede zwischen Männern und Frauen in Deutschland. Nürnberg, Germany: Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Gangl, M., & Ziefle, A., (2015). The making of a good woman: Extended parental leave entitlements and mothers’ work commitment in Germany. American Journal of Sociology, 121(2), 511563. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Gantz, W., Wang, Z., Paul, B., & Potter, R.F. (2006). Sports versus all comers: Comparing TV sports fans with fans of other programming genres. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 50, 95118. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Geisler, E., & Kreyenfeld, M. (2005). Müttererwerbstätigkeit in Ost- und Westdeutschland: Eine Analyse mit den Mikrozensen 1991-2002. MPIDF Working Paper WP 2005-033.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Haase, M., Becker, I., Nill, A., Shultz, C.J., & Gentry, J.W. (2016). Male breadwinner ideology and the inclination to establish market relationships: Model development using data from Germany and a mixed-methods research strategy. Journal of Macromarketing, 36, 149167. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hall, A.M. (2003). The game of choice: Girls’ and women’s soccer in Canada. Soccer & Society, 4(2–3), 3046. doi:

  • Hanel, B. & Riphan, R.T. (2011). The employment of mothers: Recent developments and their determinants in East and West Germany. IZA Discussion Paper No. 5752. Bonn, Germany: IZA.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hardin, J.W., & Hilbe, J.M. (2013). Generalized estimating equations (2nd ed.). London, UK: Chapman and Hall.

  • Hennies, R., & Meuren, D. (2011). Frauenfussball: Aus dem Abseits an die Spitze. Göttingen, Germany: Verlag Die Werkstatt.

  • Hoffmann, E., & Nendza, J. (2006). Verlacht, verboten und gefeiert: Zur Geschichte des Frauenfußballs in Deutschland (2nd ed.). Weilerswist, Germany: Verlag Landpresse.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hoffmann, R., Chew Ging, L., Matheson, V., & Ramasamy, B. (2006). International women’s football and gender inequality. Applied Economics Letters, 13(15), 9991001. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hong, E. (2012). Women’s football in the two Koreas: A comparative sociological analysis. Journal of Sport & Social Issues, 36(2), 115134. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Huffman, M.L., King, J., & Reichelt, M. (2017). Equality for whom? Organizational policies and the gender gap across the German Earnings Distribution. ILR Review, 70(1), 1641. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Jacobs, A.M., & Weaver, R.K. (2015). When policies undo themselves: Self‐undermining feedback as a source of policy change. Governance, 28, 441457. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Jinxia, D., & Mangan, J.A. (2002). Ascending then descending? Women’s soccer in modern China. Soccer & Society, 3(2), 118. doi:

  • Kjær, J.B., & Agergaard, S. (2013). Understanding women’s soccer: The case of Denmark and Sweden. Soccer & Society, 14(6), 816833. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Klein, M.W. (2004). Work and play: International evidence of gender equality in employment and sports. Journal of Sports Economics, 5(3), 227242. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Konietzka, D., & Kreyenfeld, M. (2002). Women’s employment and non-marital childbearing: A comparison between East and West Germany in the 1990s. Population, 57, 331357. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lagaert, S., & Roose, H. (2018). The gender gap in sport event attendance in Europe: The impact of macro-level gender equality. International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 53, 533549. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lee, K.S., Alwin, D.F., & Tufis, P.A. (2007). Beliefs about women’s labour in the reunified Germany, 1991-2004. European Sociological Review, 23, 487503. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Leeds, E.M., & Leeds, M.A. (2012). Gold, silver, and bronze: Determining national success in men’s and women’s Summer Olympic events. Jahrbücher für Nationalökonomie und Statistik, 232(3), 279292. PubMed ID: 28255177

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Linne, C.S. (2011). Frei gespielt: Frauenfußball im geteilten Deutschland. Berlin, Germany: Bebra.

  • Linne, C.S. (2014). DervergesseneOsten? Die Entwicklung des Frauenfußballs in der DDR und seine Bedeutungfür den vereintenSpielbetrieb. In S. Sinning, J. Pargätzi, & B. Eichmann (Eds.), Frauen-und Mädchenfußball im Blickpunkt: Empirische Untersuchungen-Probleme und Visionen (pp. 1328). Münster, Germany: Lit Verlag Mrz.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Liston, K. (2006). Women’s soccer in the republic of Ireland: Some preliminary sociological comments. Soccer & Society, 7(2–3), 364384. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lopez, S. (1997). Women on the ball: A guide to women’s football. London, UK: Scarlett Press.

  • Manzenreiter, W. (2008). Football in the reconstruction of the gender order in Japan. Soccer & Society, 9(2), 244258. doi:

  • Manzenreiter, W., & Horne, J. (2007). Playing the post‐fordist game in/to the far East: The footballisation of China, Japan and South Korea. Soccer & Society, 8(4), 561577. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • McCabe, C. (2011). Spectators’ relationship with women’s professional basketball: Is it more than sex? North American Journal of Psychology, 13, 107122.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Meier, H.E., & Leinwather, M. (2012). Women as “armchair audience?” Evidence from German national team football. Sociology of Sport Journal, 29, 365384. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Meier, H.E., Strauss, B., & Riedl, D. (2017). Feminization of sport audiences and fans? Evidence from the German men’s national soccer team. International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 52, 712733. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Minkus, L., & Busch-Heinzmann, A., (2018). Gender wage inequalities between historical heritage and structural adjustments: A German–German comparison over time. Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State, and Society, Article jxy032. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mintert, S.-M., & Pfister, G. (2015). The FREE project and the feminization of football: The role of women in the European fan community. Soccer & Society, 16, 405421. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Müller, K.-U., Neumann, M., & Wrohlich, K. (2018). The family working-time model: Towards more gender equality in work and care. Journal of European Social Policy, 28(5), 471486. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Neale, W.C. (1964). The peculiar economics of professional sports: A contribution to the theory of the firm in sporting competition and in market competition. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 78, 114. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Nieland, J.-U. (2013). WeltmeisterschaftenalsSprungbretterdermedialenWahrnehmung des Frauenfußballs? Die Berichterstattung in deutschenPrintmedienimZeitverlauf. In M. Herzog (Ed.), Frauenfußball in Deutschland: Anfänge–Verbote–Widerstände–Durchbruch (pp. 241262). Stuttgart, Germany: Kohlhammer.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Noland, M., & Stahler, K. (2017). An old boys club no more: Pluralism in participation and performance at the Olympic games. Journal of Sports Economics, 18(5), 506536. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Pan, W. (2001). Akaike’s information criterion in generalized estimating equations. Biometrics, 57, 120125. PubMed ID: 11252586. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Pawlowski, T. (2013). Testing the uncertainty of outcome hypothesis in European professional football—A stated preference approach. Journal of Sports Economics, 14, 341367. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Pelak, C.F. (2010). Women and gender in South African soccer: A brief history. Soccer & Society, 11(1–2), 6378. doi:

  • Pfister, G. (2001). “Must women play football?” Women’s football in Germany, past and present. Football Studies, 4(2), 4157.

  • Pfister, G. (2003). The challenges of women’s football in East and West Germany: A comparative study. Soccer & Society, 4(2–3), 128148. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Pfister, G. (2006). The future of football is female!? On the past and present of women’s football in Germany. In A. Tomlinson, and C. Young (Eds.), German football: History, culture, society (pp. 93126). London, UK: Routledge.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Pfister, G. (2008). Von SuffragettenMegären & Mannweibern: Frauenfußballgeschichte(n) iminternationalenVergleich. In U. Röger, C. Kugelmann, Y. Weigelt-Schlesinger, & M. Möhwald (Eds.), Frauen am Ball. Analysen und Perspektiven der Genderforschung (pp. 719). Hamburg, Germany: Czwalina Verlag.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Pfister, G. (2015). Assessing the sociology of sport: On women and football. International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 50(4–5), 563569.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Pierson, P. (1993). When effect becomes cause: Policy feedback and political change. World Politics, 45, 595628. doi:

  • Pollmann-Schult, M., & Reynolds, J. (2017). The work and wishes of fathers: Actual and preferred work hours among German Fathers. European Sociological Review, 33, 823838. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Pope, S., & Williams, J. (2011). Beyond irrationality and the ultras: Some notes on female English rugby union fans and the “feminised” sports crowd. Leisure Studies, 30, 293308. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Rosenfeld, R.A., Trappe, H., & Gornick, J.C. (2004). Gender and work in Germany: Before and after reunification. Annual Review of Sociology, 30, 103124. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Rottenberg, S. (1956). The baseball players labor-market. Journal of Political Economy, 64, 242258. doi:

  • Schaaf, D. (2014). Gefangen im Klischee? Mediale Inszenierung von Weiblichkeit im Frauenfußball. In A.R. Hoffmann & M. Krüger (Eds.), Rund um den Frauenfußball: Pädagogische und sozialwissenschaftliche Perspektiven (pp. 3079). Münster, Germany: Waxmann.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Scraton, S., Fasting, K., Pfister, G., & Bunuel, A. (1999). It’s still a Man’s game? The experience of top-level women footballers. International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 34(2), 99111. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Solberg, H.A., (2002). The economics of television sports rights. Europe and the US: A comparative analysis. Norsk Medietidsskrift, 9(2), 5780.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Soss, J., & Schram, S.F. (2007). A public transformed? Welfare reform as policy feedback. American Political Science Review, 101, 111127. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Spitzer, G., Teichler, H.J., & Reinartz, K. (1998). Schlüsseldokumente zum DDR-Sport: Ein sporthistorischer Überblick in Originalquellen. Aachen, Germany: Meyer & Meyer.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Svallfors, S. (2010). Policy feedback, generational replacement, and attitudes to state intervention: Eastern and Western Germany, 1990-2006. European Political Science Review, 2, 119135. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Tainsky, S., & Winfree, J.A. (2010). Short-run demand and uncertainty of outcome in Major League Baseball. Review of Industrial Organization, 37, 197214. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Tate, T. (2013). Girls with balls: The secret history of women’s footballLondon, UK: John Blake Publishing.

  • Teichler, H.J. (2002). Die Sportbeschlüsse des Politbüros: eine Studie zum Verhältnis von SED und Sport mit einem Gesamtverzeichnis und einer Dokumentation ausgewählter Beschlüsse. Köln, Germany: Sport und Buch Strauß.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Trappe, H., Pollmann-Schult, M., & Schmitt, C. (2015). The rise and decline of the male breadwinner model: Institutional underpinnings and future expectations. European Sociological Review, 31, 230242. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Trappe, H., & Rosenfeld, R.A. (2000). How do children matter? A comparison of gender earnings Inequality for young adults in the former East Germany and the former West Germany. Journal of Marriage and Family, 62, 489507. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • UNESCO. (2011). Human development report 2011. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

  • Walter, J.G. (2018). Measures of gender role attitudes under revision: The example of the German general social survey. Social Science Research, 72, 170182. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Wann, D.L., & Waddill, P.J. (2003). Predicting sport fan motivation using anatomical sex and gender role orientation. North American Journal of Psychology, 5, 485498.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Whiteside, E., & Hardin, M. (2011). Women (not) watching women: Leisure time, television, and implications for televised coverage of women’s sports. Communication, Culture & Critique, 4, 122143. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Wicker, P., & Frick, B., (2015). The relationship between intensity and duration of physical activity and subjective well-being. European Journal of Public Health, 25(1), 868872. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Williams, J. (2003). A game for rough girls? A history of women’s football in Britain. London, UK: Routledge.

  • Zoch, G., & Schober, P.S. (2018). Public child‐care expansion and changing gender ideologies of parents in Germany. Journal of Family and Marriage, 80(4), 10201039. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Zubayr, C., & Gerhard, H. (2005). Tendenzen im Zuschauerverhalten. Media Perspektiven, 2005(3), 94104.

  • Zubayr, C., & Gerhard, H. (2011). Tendenzen im Zuschauerverhalten. Media Perspektiven, 2011(3), 126138.

  • Zubayr, C., & Gerhard, H. (2017). Tendenzen im Zuschauerverhalten. Media Perspektiven, 2017(3), 130144.

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 526 526 39
Full Text Views 11 11 4
PDF Downloads 10 10 2