Faye White hopes European success can be pounced upon for the good of women's football

Arsenal Ladies have dominated British representation in Europe

Just as the men’s competition rarely sees an absence of British clubs in the quarter-finals of the Champions League, the women’s version has a similar record, if just for one team.

Arsenal Ladies have dominated British representation in Europe since the competition’s inception in 2002 as the UEFA Women’s Cup.

And defender Faye White, who has captained the side through unrivalled success, is one of the most recognisable faces in the women’s game. At 35, she is preparing her side for another quarter-final appearance against Italians ASD Torres, with today’s first leg at Meadow Park, the home of Boreham Wood FC.

Since winning the competition in 2007, where they beat Swedish side Umea 1-0 over two legs, the women’s game in this country should have progressed into a more marketable force. Momentum has forced little, and White agrees.

“We have shown on the pitch that we are getting there, but there is still work in terms of the media and public perceptions.

“Due to the lack of media coverage at the time the overall game did miss out as the wider public didn’t know about it.”

Arsenal, as ever, are the last British team remaining in the tournament. They have also dominated the domestic game, winning both editions of the women’s Super League since it began in 2011, as well as 12 Premier League titles beforehand.

But European success is highest on the agenda for White, with more than just glory on the pitch at stake.

“The Champions League is the highest level,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity, and is getting so much stronger. Because the strength of clubs around Europe is getting better and stronger, this year looks more exciting. A victory would help to continue to grow the positive perceptions of the game.”

Arsenal arrived in the last eight after a 6-4 aggregate victory over German giants FFC Turbine Potsdam, whose average attendance in this season’s competition touches 3,000. But these positives give rise to more questions.

Arsenal’s average attendance is just under 800, with the popularity of the game in the likes of Germany and Sweden towering over England. Despite matching their rivals on the pitch, there is no contest between English sides and other countries off it.

Unsurprisingly, this stems from the number of people playing the game. At the time of Arsenal’s European success in 2007 there were 130,000 registered female players in England, compared to nearly a million in Germany. There were similar figures in Sweden to that of England, but bearing in mind the population is over five times less, the gap is immense. Last year’s final at Munich’s Olympiastadion attracted a staggering 50,000 spectators.

“The Germans are so good at club and international level, as are the Scandinavians,” said White. “It’s a very different perception, well covered, well supported by federation and by the public. It just seems to be football, not women’s and men’s.

“Clubs like Lyon and Potsdam have had a lot of success due to the increased funding in their teams and their leagues,” White added.

“This is mainly due to the increased amount of support and funding which we are still trying to get the through commercial partnerships and media coverage.”

However, White does believe the game is currently going in the right direction. This month saw the BBC announce online highlights of the Super League, which kicks off on Saturday, while the FA Cup and this summer’s European Championships will have more in-depth coverage and previews. BBC presenter Clare Balding put the attraction to women’s football bluntly, recently telling the Guardian: “Players aren't abusive to referees, they don't spit, swear or dive and there is no racist abuse.”

But with the men’s European game creating such anticipation and talking points, increased coverage of the women’s Champions League is surely what the game needs for that extra injection of interest. Nevertheless, with this year’s final at Stamford Bridge, the current home of the European champions, to follow Arsenal’s progress in the competition would be a to support the women’s game in Britain.

“Success does open more doors as it helps change companies and people’s perceptions to get involved and provide more funding,” added White. “We have shown that with the quality of the game and great role models available the sport can be marketed to develop these relationships and therefore get more funding.”

The UEFA Women’s Champions League Final takes place at Stamford Bridge on Thursday 23 May. Tickets priced from £5 are available to purchase now from www.chelseafc.com/uefawomensfinal

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before