BBC Refuse To Show Women’s World Cup Quarter-Final Despite Growing Pressure

England’s women will play in the World Cup Quarter-Final against France tomorrow, but the BBC are refusing to show the game live despite growing pressure to help promote the sport.

The game is scheduled to be broadcast on the Red Button Interactive Service but critics have said that the lack of live coverage on a terrestrial channel risks women’s football missing out on the recent surge in interest.

Sue Tibballs, the chief executive of campaign group the Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation (WSFF), told The Guardian: “With the growing buzz among football fans about the World Cup quarter-final it would be an unprecedented boost for women’s sport if the BBC could find a way to rejig the schedules.”

“We appreciate that they have existing commitments to other sports but we’re talking about the quarter-final of the World Cup – the pinnacle of women’s sport. It would send the clearest message yet to Hope Powell’s squad that the nation is backing them all the way.”

“Just over 1.2 million football fans tuned into watch the 2009 European Championship final and around 700,000 viewers tuned into the edited highlights of the Japan match on Tuesday, while four million people watched the game live on German TV. It’s clear that there’s an appetite for it, and we urge the BBC to make this change,” she added.

Research conducted by the WSFF has suggested that 61% of sports fans would show more of an interest in women’s football if it was given more exposure, but the Beeb have explained that it is impossible to broadcast the match on a linear channel, because it starts at 5pm when BBC Three and BBC Four are not on air, and BBC One is contracted to show Scottish Open golf.

“There’s a scheduling clash because we’re contracted to show the Scottish Open golf,” said a BBC spokeswoman.

“It will be live on the Red Button, which is now available to 90% of the population, and there will be highlights at 10.45pm on BBC Two.”