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Sports

Soccer Fandom Less and Less a Men-Only Affair

The latest television ratings from German broadcaster ARD confirm that women have come to love "The Beautiful Game," and not just because of some of the beautiful men on the pitch.

female soccer fan

More women are getting to really know and appreciate the game

The looks of Portugal star Cristiano Ronaldo may help, but a growing number of women are also familiar with the offside rule or tactical setups.

It was nonetheless astonishing news when ARD said that, on average, 13.33 million women had watched Germany's 3-2 victory against Portugal while the men lagged behind with 12.81 million.

Women are also present in large numbers in the Euro 2008 stadiums and fan zones in the host countries of Austria and Switzerland.

"There are plenty of women in these happy crowds, which refutes once and for all the sexist reputation of our game," said UEFA boss Michel Platini earlier in the tournament.

UEFA spokesman Wolfgang Eichler also spoke of "a tendency towards a growing number of women in the fan zones and stadiums" with a German football spokesman speaking in more general terms of "growing interest of women in football - including the Bundesliga."

A combination of reasons

The end of hooliganism in stadiums, greater comfort there, as well as football turning from a simple sports competition to an event are listed as some factors which attract women to the game.

Brazilian fans at the 2006 World Cup

The trend was first observed at the 2006 World Cup - which like Euro saw a figure of almost 50 percent women in the stadiums - and it now even covers the merchandising sector.

"At least half of our shoppers are women," said one member of the official Euro fan shop in Vienna. "While men simply buy the XL shirt of their favorite team women want some advice as far as size and color are concerned."

This shows a different approach of the genders, which is also confirmed by Nicole Selmer, author of the book "Watching the Boys Play."

"Male and female football fans have a lot in common, but there are also differences. Women make more personal remarks about players such as 'he looks good' or 'he can even put three sentences together,'" said Selmer.

Not just the babe factor

She insisted this doesn't mean that women don't have a clue about football and were only interested in the looks of players.

Cristiano Ronaldo

The sex appeal of players like Cristiano Ronaldo doesn't keep the women away, but it's not the only reason they're fans

In Germany, a poll by the Allensbach institute conducted ahead of Euro seems to confirms this as well, with 59 percent of the women saying they are really into the game when Germany plays -- as opposed to 57 percent of the men.

Another poll, from the German ElitePartner online dating service, also reveals that 34 per cent of the men polled consider football-crazy women sexy.

"Men like it when women love the sport. They hope for football evenings with them," said ElitePartner psychologist Lisa Fischbach.

DW.DE