Sixty thousand, seven hundred and thirty nine. That’s the official attendance from the Atletico Madrid v Barcelona match from La Liga Iberdrola on the weekend.

Barcelona won 2-0 with Nigerian international Asisat Oshoala and England international Toni Duggan on the score sheet. Aussie Alex Chidiac was an unused sub.

This match was always going to be big. It was a top of the table clash, Atleti in first, six points ahead of Barca before the game. Both sides had only lost one match and are both considered top teams.

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But it was big in other ways. It was Atletico’s first game at the Wanda Metropolitano – the home of the club and the place where all the men’s team’s matches are played.

And with a big, new stadium, two powerhouse clubs, and good form on their side, this round 24 match broke records left, right and centre.

It was the biggest attendance for a women’s football match in Europe in any competition, surpassing the 2012 Champions League final.

On that day, 50,212 people saw Lyon lift the trophy after a 2-0 win against Frankfurt.

It also broke a 99-year old record for a women’s domestic match set back in 1920 when Dick, Kerr Ladies – widely considered one of the oldest women’s football teams in the world – played St Helens at Goodison Park.

These figures are proof that women’s football isn’t just on the rise but is here and now, ready for you to watch and enjoy.

Crowds like this could have been the norm if not for things like the FA’s ban on women using FA-affiliated grounds which lasted 50 years.

That ban was only repealed in 1971 and had far reaching consequences well outside the governing body’s jurisdiction.

During that time, negative attitudes towards women and football were allowed to develop and become entrenched.

However, the football community is slowly undoing the work of bans like the FA’s and challenging the stereotypes and misconceptions about women’s football.

And with a bumper World Cup in France just around the corner, women’s football is going from strength to strength.

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Marissa Lordanic
marissa.lordanic@gmail.com