The Red Flames have increasingly emerged from the shadow of their male colleagues in recent years. After the successful European Championship this summer, the popularity of women’s national football is greater than ever.
“It has been a long-term job,” says Manu Leroy, marketing director of the KBVB. “The popularity has increased enormously in recent years. We are coming from a time where barely 1,000 people came to watch.”
“In previous years, 3,000 people were the norm, but this year we grew to an average of 5,000 spectators. The upward trend is there.”
Tonight the Flames play for a completely sold-out Dreef in Leuven, the home of national football women for years. “The hype after the excellent European Championship is a factor in this, but the game is also on Friday evening, which means that many families can come.”
A full stadium of more than 8,000 men is excellent for the women’s team by Belgian standards. Abroad, those figures are much higher, Leroy also knows.
“If we look abroad, we see that competition matches are even played in front of full stadiums. For example, the women of Barcelona played for a full Camp Nou (with more than 90,000 fans, ed.). “
“If women’s football continues to grow with us, for example by being there at every international tournament, and the Flames deliver results, then it does not seem inconceivable that the women will play in the King Baudouin Stadium in the foreseeable future.”
“But in Leuven we do have a nice and cozy stadium, where you also have the feeling that it is well filled with 5,000 people.”