Female fans can boost sponsorship during crisis

MILAN, Jan 27 (Reuters) - Football has a solid female fanbase which credit crunch-hit sponsors and advertisers have yet to tap into, a report said on Tuesday.

The "Women's World of Football" study carried out by oddly-named consultancy firm SPORT+MARKT said 38 percent of football fans worldwide are female.

"The times when men ruled the world of football are over," SPORT+MARKT Executive Director Hartmut Zastrow said in a statement.

"New sectors will invest more and more in football. We predict growing interest from fashion labels, jewellery brands and also companies from the gardening sector.

"Female football fans worldwide have a strong interest in fashion and clothing, stronger than women overall, and stronger than the male fan group. Companies have yet to exploit this interest."

The study involved more than 20,000 respondents in 21 countries.

Outside Britain, over a third of people interested in the Premier League are female with Chinese women having a particular high interest in English football.

The report also said 62 percent of the South African female population were very interested or interested in football ahead of the 2010 World Cup finals being held in their country.