An interview with Tatjana Haenni - Y Sport | Global Women’s Football Expert
What is your new role at Y Sport?
As part of Y Sport’s leadership team, I will work closely with Sally Hancock and Sally Horrox to expand the consultancy’s business in women’s sport and international football. My focus will be advising clubs, leagues, international federations as well as brand and media partners on their women’s sport and football interests – to deliver growth, investment and exciting new commercial partnerships. I also have in depth experience of bidding for, creating and delivering major women’s sports events which will complement Y Sport’s existing business.
Y Sport launched in April 2016, founded by two industry leaders Sally Hancock and Sally Horrox. The consultancy has grown swiftly in this time and developed a strong reputation for providing original and impartial advice to global brands, media partners and right holders across elite and grassroots sports, with a particular belief and interest in the value of women’s sport. With a client base that includes UEFA, SKY, TSB and Nissan, Y Sport also works closely with a number of federations and rights holders.
How do you see the potential of women’s sport?
My background is in international sport – leading the development of women’s football for FIFA and UEFA over the past 20 years. Working internationally across many countries, I have witnessed the positive impact that grass roots sport and world class events can have on people, business and communities. Making the business case for investment in women’s sport – not just football - is becoming easier, as the audience grows, and there is proven demand. I oversaw the organisation of the FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany 2011 and the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015. Digital and social media audience for these events surpassed the Tour de France and the Rugby World Cup.
The public and fans want to see it. It is cool, it is trendy, it is different. It is something new and, in a mature market, that makes it very appealing.
Can you see the start of a new era for women's football?
I believe this is the start of the next chapter of growth for women’s football - so many things are changing for the better as the sport becomes more organized and professional. New competition structures, increasingly professional leagues, the environment and salaries for players and the club structures are all changing. Investment by men’s professional clubs is increasing as they see the benefits of a more inclusive approach to football. Long term investment is starting to make a positive impact as we see the sport grow, more girls and women playing and becoming lifelong football fans.
What is the biggest challenge for women’s football?
The biggest challenge for women’s football has been the lack of investment in the sport. Attracting this investment has been difficult without media profile at the top of the game; right now this is changing. The sport is more visible on media platforms, digital and social channels, and we are seeing long term investment, for example by FIFA and UEFA to fund global growth and development of the sport. We are in the early stages of this investment cycle – the challenge is to plan and commit to this for the long term over the next 5 – 10 years.
The other challenge we must address is to make sure that sport is completely inclusive. Any time you speak about sport, it should be about boys and girls, men and women. It should be inclusive. It should be diverse, open to all ages. It should take the whole society into account and offer opportunities for all.
How do you feel part of the growth and professional development of women’s sport?
To work in women’s sport right now is tremendously exciting. To be involved in football and to see it grow and become fully inclusive so that girls and boys have the same opportunity to play – whether that be for fun, friendship and health or to pursue a professional career - is incredibly rewarding. One day to say that we have played a part and helped to achieve that, then I think we should really be happy and proud of ourselves.