A new report by Nielsen Sports into the growth of women’s football has found that interest in the sport has reached 40% in countries taking part in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

The report is the result of a collaboration between Nielsen and Leaders and explores the growth of fan interest and commercial investments into women’s football.

It paints a picture of the state of the sport ahead of the World Cup, which begins on 7 June and is mostly likely to be won by the hosts, France, according to predictions in the report.

Lynsey Douglas, Nielsen’s global lead of women’s sports, said: “With major brands making significant investments, and our data and insights demonstrating impressive fan interest, the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup is poised to attract the most attention in the tournament’s history.”

The eighth edition of the competition will take place across nine venues in France and kicks off on Friday when France take on South Korea in Paris.

The final will take place on 7 July at Parc Olympique Lyonnais in Lyon.

Nielsen’s report has found that 54% of the world’s women’s football fans are male and 63% are under the age of 45.

The largest fan bases are in the US, China and Brazil, who all have major women’s football teams, but also India, who have never taken part in a World Cup.

Attendances at women’s football games have increased dramatically worldwide, with record attendances in Mexico, Spain, Italy and England over the past 12 months.

Prize money has also increased, with the total World Cup prize fund doubling from $15 million in 2015 to $30 million this time round.

“In the past few months, we have seen an exciting series of announcements and events highlighting a powerful shift in the women’s sporting landscape,” added Douglas.

Predictions from Gracenote, a Nielsen company, have also found World Cup hosts France as the favourites to win the competition, which runs from 7 June to 7 July.

According to Gracenote, the hosts have a 22% chance of victory, compared to the US, champions last time, on 14%, along with Germany on 12% and England on 11%.

Gracenote used FIFA world rankings to estimate the outcome of each match to simulate the entire competition one million times, using the outcomes of this to calculate each team’s chances.

“France are ranked fourth in the world but home advantage makes them the favourite to win the competition,” said Simon Gleave, head of sports analysis at Gracenote.

“However, we know that anything can happen in a tournament like this, so watch out for Australia, Canada and the Netherlands for solid runs in this year’s competition.”

France are also the holders of the men’s world cup, having taken home the trophy from Russia in 2018.

The Women’s World Cup starts on 7 June and features 24 teams.