Visa believes sponsorship can break ‘vicious cycle’ holding back women’s football

Sponsors can use their investment in women’s football to overturn the “vicious circle” that has been holding the game back, according to one of Visa’s most senior partnership executives.

Speaking at the SportBusiness Decision Makers Summit in London, Steve Day, vice-president of sponsorship, brand and product marketing at Visa, said: “About 18 months ago, we looked strategically at what should we be doing as part of our Fifa sponsorship and as part of our approach to women’s sport in general,” said Day.

“We came to idea that women’s football was caught in this vicious cycle: It wasn’t getting the audiences, so it wasn’t attracting sponsors to invest, so girls weren’t being inspired, and role models weren’t being created.

“We took a strategic decision to try and break that cycle, both in term of how much we invest in the women’s World Cup, and also in the deal that we signed with Uefa to support women’s football around Europe.

“We decided somebody needed to make that move and we decided to invest heavily.”

Day added that Visa’s deal with US Soccer, announced in May this year, guarantees that at least of 50 per cent of Visa’s sponsorship is invested in the women’s game.

As a company, Visa thought equal investment across the men’s and women’s teams and grassroots programmes was the “right thing to do.”

Day said women’s football sponsorship is “not an ROI play” for Visa at this stage, but is expected to generate ROI in the long-term.