Alessia Russo: Women's game deserves stadium sell-out crowds

  • Arsenal Women have sold out the Emirates Stadium three times
  • The Gunners recently set WSL attendance record against Manchester United
  • Russo opens up on experiences & hails Kelly Smith & Marta for pioneering women's football

Arsenal are making waves in women's football
Arsenal are making waves in women's football / Eurasia Sport Images/GettyImages

Arsenal striker Alessia Russo says women are finally getting the respect and attention they deserve as the Gunners continue to draw huge crowds inside the Emirates Stadium.

After selling out the 2023 Women's Champions League semi-final against Wolfsburg, Arsenal played in front of a max-capacity Emirates in their last two WSL games against both Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur.

Drawing crowds of 60,160 against United - a WSL record - and 60,050 against Spurs, Arsenal's average attendance this season is higher than ten Premier League teams, and that feat is not lost on Russo.

"It's been incredible," she tells 90min at an Adobe Women's FA Cup panel event at Wembley of the support from the Emirates faithful. "Every time you step out in front of a stadium like that, you get goosebumps. As a player, it's so special, and the fact that we're doing it consistently now, as Arsenal and as a club, we're really paving the way.

"It's what we deserve. It's nice to play in front of as many people as possible, and hopefully it's something we continue to do. It's credit to the women's game and credit to the fans."

Those bumper crowds have witnessed an enthralling WSL title race this season. Russo's Arsenal are battling it out with both Manchester City and leaders Chelsea, the latter of whom will host the Gunners at Stamford Bridge later this month.

Alessia Russo
Arsenal have drawn some enormous crowds this season / Eurasia Sport Images/GettyImages

"It's really close," she says of the title race. "It's going to be tough, [Chelsea] are a top quality side.

"This league, this title race and everything that comes with it, is massive. You've got to be bringing your A-Game every week."

Russo is well aware of the need to pay respect to those that paved the way in women's football and fought for her right to be able to play in front of such huge crowds.

Reflecting on her favourite-ever players, Russo adds: "I was a massive fan of Kelly Smith when I was a kid, and she's my coach now, which is really cool. It's a bit of a full-circle moment. I used to love watching her play. She was a top quality forward.

"Also Marta. What she did for Brazil and for football in general, she's a true legend of the game. [Her retirement] was a sad day for football, but the legacy she's left on the game is incredible. She'll go down in the history books forever, because she was an unbelievable player, but also a pioneer of the women's game."