World Cup ratings juggernaut could lead to Women's pro-soccer in Austin

On Sunday, more than 14 million Americans watched the Women's World Cup final on Fox and according to a breakdown of the ratings, Austin was the number one city for viewership.

"Austin being #1 in the TV ratings throughout the World Cup regardless of whether the American women's team was playing is just another data point reaffirming just how passionate Austin is for soccer," said Josh Babetski with Austin FC's official support group Austin Anthem.

Jayme Woodfill plays for Dallas Baptist University and Austin's semi-pro women's soccer team FC Austin Elite.  

"I think they [the women’s team] came out ‘guns blazing’ against Thailand, 13-0 putting their name on it saying 'no we're still here and we're still going to win this World Cup,’ which they did," Woodfill said.

She watched Sunday night's final at Celis Brewery.

"We had this cute little girl that was a fan of FC Austin Elite, she came and sat in my lap the entire finals,” Woodfill said. “I was watching soccer...the girls that I'm fans of -- I love those girls on TV and then I had a fan of my own just sitting in my lap watching soccer with me which was pretty awesome.”

FC Austin Elite recently played the USL team Austin Bold at their Circuit of the Americas stadium for practice. This past weekend they beat the San Antonio Athenians at Bold Stadium.

"We played in front of 1200 people our last game, that was amazing,” Woodfill said. “It was electrifying.”
Woodfill is hoping the momentum behind women's soccer will help bring attention to FC Austin Elite.

"It's great to be in a city that does love soccer, but they also need to love soccer maybe when it's not World Cup time or not MLS season," Woodfill said. "Hopefully this publicity has helped us, so we'll continue to get sponsors, we'll continue to get 1200 plus people at our game." 

Austin's first major league sports franchise, Austin FC, is kicking off in 2021 at a brand-new stadium being built near the Domain. Chairman and CEO Anthony Precourt mentioned during a June installment of the "Austin Soccer Pod" podcast that bringing a National Women's Soccer League team to Austin is something he's exploring. He says it would be great for the city.

"Hopefully that NWSL team will get just as much love as the MLS team if he decides to do that," Woodfill said.  

Babestki is on board.

"Hopefully this can be another one of those kind of tipping point moments for the American sports landscape to really support a women's soccer team," Babetski said.  

After finishing up at DBU, Woodfill's name might someday be on a pro-Austin team's jersey.

"I would love to try to make my way back into the NWSL and play there but that's a lot of work and that's definitely something that I've got to sit down and grind it out," Woodfill said.