Victoire Cogevina Reynal is an American-born Greek–Argentine businesswoman set on democratizing football through software technology. She founded Gloria, a start-up that counts itself in the 2% of Silicon Valley venture-backed companies led by women. Currently based between Miami & London, she is acknowledged as one of the Latin American women that are redefining the football industry globally. Previously, she co-founded SR All Stars, the first sports agency representing male professional Latin American footballers in the MLS. In 2018, SR All Stars was recognised by FIFA as the first women-owned and led sports agency in the world.
Today Victoire is a strong activist for gender equality in football with UN Women, as well as serving on the board of non-profit WiST (Women in Sports Tech) – from where she boosts the career of students and young professionals in traditionally male-dominated fields. She is also recognised as one of the most predominant thought leaders in the women’s football movement, and a powerful promoter of the inclusion of women in the beautiful game.
In this exclusive conversation with WFS Digest, she shares why she is working hard to change the world of football, bringing women to a place where they can be seen as equals both on and off the pitch.
The inclusion of women in football across all levels represents an opportunity of $200 billion over the next decade.
WFS: Why does the world need Gloria?
Gloria is the digital home for football fans across the world to share the highs and lows that come with loving a club, player, or national team. Think of what Strava did for fitness, Twitch for gamers, or even Chief for c-suite women.
The world is ready for football to have a dedicated home that is inclusive of fans at a global level. At Gloria, we believe everyone should be a part of this community, no matter their race, nationality, age, or gender. We work diligently and thoughtfully around developing an online fan experience and a brand that is truly for everyone. And that of course means building for women.
It’s time to open up the football market to the other half of the world.
WFS: What value can Gloria bring to football?
The value of inclusivity, innovation & integrity.
Inclusivity: We built this company with the mission to unite and empower football lovers around the world. Making sure we consistently find new ways to increase a sense of belonging for our consumer’s matters to us. Football has been known as a global sport for over 100 years, but until now there’s been little to no understanding of how to connect the dots and create a truly inclusive community.
We are here to change that.
Innovation: We are small and nimble, which means we can move faster. In general, freedom and rapid recovery are better than trying to prevent errors. We are in a creative business, not a safety-critical business. Our big threat over time is a lack of innovation, so we are relatively error-tolerant.
This mindset has put the Gloria team at the forefront of the online community game.
Integrity: We act with honor regardless of whether our actions are public; we commit to doing what we say we will do. As a company, as a brand, we care about acting with complete transparency and integrity.
We are here to build the world’s largest football online community.
WFS: How has Gloria changed since you started the company and what have been your greatest challenges to get where you are today?
We started as a scouting app, dedicated to building a social product for aspiring footballers. But the pandemic showed us a gap in the market we were considering at first, the fans. The more we built the product and understood the market needs, the more we adapted our thinking.
The vision became bigger and bolder, and today we are here to build the world’s largest football community online.
WFS: When we speak about football for women, sometimes the focus goes to the players but at the end of the day, while it is true that we need more women on the playing field, we also need them in leadership/executive positions, in governance, referees, etc.
We need to grow the entire ecosystem.
What needs to happen in the world to grow the women’s football ecosystem? What are the barriers?
When we speak about women in football, we need to consider both women’s football and football for women. These are two different markets and audiences.
Today, the biggest misconception is that women’s football means more women will consume football. The reality is that only 30% of viewers of women’s football are… women (a mere 10% bump from the 80/20 split of men’s football).
The first and most important change that needs to occur, is to include more women in leadership/executive positions across the board. As they become better represented at the highest levels of the industry, the female point of view will trickle down to the products offered to consumers, not only amplifying the audience but also creating new fan adoption tools for the other half of the world.
I am a true believer that the inclusion of women in the sport (from the boardroom to the bleachers) represents a once-in-a-generation financial opportunity with a potential 200 billion dollars to be produced in the next decade.
Women’s football on the other hand is on track to becoming mainstream. It’s pretty exciting to watch this new sector booming within football. A lot of the traditional rules around broadcasting and sponsorship in football are being challenged on a daily basis, and new revenue streams are being created as we speak.
Men’s football is like an IPO, a fortune 500 company – it’s been around for many years and there are very structured ways of doing things. Meanwhile, Women’s Football is a startup… it’s new, it’s uncharted territory, and will thrive on innovation.
There is a massive 3 billion customer market around women’s football that today is gravely underserved and untapped.
WFS: What is your vision for women’s football in the next 5-10-15 years?
The next 2 decades in women’s football are going to be all about hypergrowth. I believe clubs will continue to encourage Women’s games to remain family-focused and safe for everyone. Teams will start to build partnerships with the biggest fashion houses in the world to design and market their kits for women.
Smart broadcasters will invest in Super Bowl-type ultra hi-resolution 4K cinematic footage and emotional storytelling around the players to win women’s hearts (and eyeballs).
Consumer apps (i.e. live score apps, betting apps, fantasy football, gaming platforms, web3 projects, etc.) will become more intentional about UX + UI being friendly to women and will own the communities and retention of fans online. This last category is fundamental because it will allow young girls and women to discover the sport without the need and support of a dad, brother or boyfriend anymore; this is what enables scaling at a global level.
Lastly, I think that brands that leverage the unique values that women’s sports offers, and make fans feel that watching games, going to the stadium, and buying merch also means they are supporting a movement of equality will be ahead of them all.
However, the time is now.
The smartest thing any company operating in this space can do today is invest time & resources to understand how to market and sell football to the other half of the world. I still see too many key decision-makers treating women’s football and the inclusion of women in the sport as a box-ticking exercise, a CRS project, or even worse, a “should do before we get canceled” thing.
These people are incredibly wrong.
Football & women are not only the right thing to do, but it’s also good business. There is a massive 3 billion customer market that today is gravely underserved and untapped.
WFS: Victoire you are, essentially, a game-changer and an outlier. You speak about “football” and “technology” and sadly, this is something that breaks the mold in so many ways. The world is not used to seeing a woman be an expert in these two fields, and even less when they are combined.
So, what does it take to be a game-changer?
It takes a lot of resilience and belief in yourself and your vision. You also need allies, lots of them. I was very lucky to have incredible mentors and supporters from day 1 that opened doors for me, first as a female agent representing men and then as a technology entrepreneur.
I think that being a woman in football today is about breaking stuff all the time, including old misconceptions, stereotypes, and even ideologies.
WFS: But at the same time, and related to the question above, we are of the belief that there are many hidden gems in the world with enough talent and skills to thrive and be game-changers but for some reason, they do not take “the step.” What advice, if any, do you have for those people?
I’d give them the same advice my mother, the FIFA Agent, and mother of four gave to me: go forward without fear.
Nothing in this world worth achieving can be achieved alone
WFS: What are, in your opinion, three key traits that business leaders need today?
Empathy to better understand consumers, out-of-the-box thinking for constant innovation, and resilience to execute in an industry that rarely thinks long term.
WFS: Looking back on your career thus far, is there a decision from the past that made you become the leader you are today?
After many years of working alongside men, and being criticised for being vulnerable and too empathetic, I realised it was my biggest advantage as a professional. It allowed me to attract and surround myself with highly talented people.
After all, nothing in this world worth achieving can be achieved alone.
WFS: We live in a world with abundant tech developments. How does technology help grow women’s football?
Technology means scale, and today smartphones have the highest penetration rate of any technology in the world. This means that the more products you can deliver through smartphones, the more scale you’ll get. Women’s football needs more visibility and scale.
WFS: Over the last several months we have seen the rise of web3 and how it could shift business models to more “community-driven” and “user-empowerment” models (examples include governance, play to earn dynamics, just to name a few) Does the emergence of web3 change Gloria’s business model? If so, how?
Web 3 is a new type of technology, one that has been community focused since day one. The application of web 3 to football, as in any other industry, will allow for a lot of innovation and new monetisation opportunities, so I am bullish on it. It’s a big part of our roadmap.
WFS: Gloria has been backed by several top-tier investors such as Alexis Ohanian and Assia Grazioli-Venier, among others. What were the main “reasons-to-believe” that convinced them to support your efforts?
Once they understood the size of the football audience and the scale of the opportunity, they realised this was a massive investment opportunity others in tech weren’t picking up on. I also think that both Alexis and Assia are known for investing in non-traditional founders, which is what I was (and still am).
WFS: Are you optimistic about football’s role in influencing positive change in society and, in helping reduce inequality between men and women (in business, culture, etc.)? Why or why not?
I strongly believe that gender equality in football drives gender equality in the world.
My work with the United Nations is based upon this idea and is the foundation of Gloria’s inclusive vision of football.
I’ve come to prior World Football Summit events as an agent and this year I come back as a tech entrepreneur – which shows you the breadth and reach WFS has across the football industry.
WFS: You will be attending WFS Europe in September. What is the value that World Football Summit brings to the table?
Every event where we can meet with peers, colleagues, partners, brands, or simply people who believe in the future of this industry has value for us. For me, it is a pleasure to return to WFS. I’ve come to prior events as an agent and this year I come back as a tech entrepreneur – which shows you the breadth and reach WFS has across the football industry.
I am grateful and very excited to be on stage in Sevilla!
WFS: What would you ask of football industry leaders to promote women’s football?
Beyond being the right thing to do, women’s football and football for women is a tremendous business opportunity. Some of the biggest players in the industry have already understood it, and are being intentional about the decisions they are making moving forward – and I am lucky to be working very closely with them.
WFS: And of brands? Because at the end of the day, sponsorship and partnerships with brands are essential to generate revenues that help grow the game but for some reason, brands do not seem to go “all in” on football for women.
So, what are the “reasons to believe” for brands and how can they be convinced that the future of football belongs to women?
The reality is that investing in women today is far more accessible and will represent a much larger ROI than investing in the men’s game. A lot of brands can already see that. The rest will have to follow through but will lose a very large portion of the market share for being late to the party.
This interview featured in the latest edition of WFS Digest, our insider’s guide to the latest and most relevant thoughts and practices from within the football industry. You can subscribe to WFS Digest HERE.