They are one step away from their holy grail. Two finalists in a Euro and third in the 2015 World Cup, the English have never won a major international tournament. Victory on Sunday July 31 at Euro 2022 will mark the first title for England since the 1966 World Cup won by the men’s team. A success to crown a failed love story between the English and football. After the men’s disappointment at Euro 2020, will women’s football return?
It’s not just for men that England is the birthplace of football. In the middle of the First World War, in 1917, the first women’s group, the Dick, Kerr Ladies, was born. Most popular, these women travel the country, bringing thousands of spectators to their charity matches aimed at raising funds for the injured. But four years later, the English federation whistles at the end of the recess: the practice of football is prohibited for women, it can be dangerous for their health. It was not until 1970 that they regained their place in the field.
England started very far away. Rarely qualifying for international tournaments in the 1980s and 1990s, it was not until the 21st century that a national women’s team regained center stage in the group stage. The knockout matches can be counted on the fingers of one hand, until the Euro final in 2009, lost against… Germany.
Thus began a complete overhaul of women’s football in England. First stage, the London Games, in 2012. With nearly 70,000 people attending Britain’s unexpected victory over Brazil in the group stage, popular enthusiasm around women’s practice launched. The Football Association (FA) launched a women’s football development program in 20134.4 million euros to give English women the same access to land as men.
And it works: after the 2019 World Cup, the numbers jumped to 43% in women, and 28% in mixed teams. In total, England now has 3.4 million female football players out of 11.8 million practitioners. There is no question of stopping there, however, the federation has set itself the goal that 75% of English schools provide equal access to football for girls and boys during sports lessons. Looking at Euro 2022 as a new growth accelerator.
But for the women’s teams to shine, the Lionesses must lift the cup. During their Euro “at home”, there is no question of aiming for anything but first place. To achieve this, the federation placed the small dishes in the big ones, especially in the area of management. Coach recruitment Sarina Wiegman is a game changer. It must be said that he arrived with an encouraging CV: at the head of the team of the Netherlands, his native country, he won the Euro 2017 and lost in the final of the 2019 World Cup.
Almost ten months after his arrival across the Channel, he has not failed his reputation: a series of 19 consecutive matches without defeat, and more than 100 goals scored, this is the success of the Wiegman method. Eight goals against Norwayfive against Northern Ireland and four against Swedenthe capacity of lions Finding the back of the net doesn’t need to be proven.
“The English have been fantastic in this tournament, they have scored a lot of goals and have incredible confidence in themselves”pointed out on Wednesday Martina Voss-Tecklenburg, the German coach, who did not underestimate the chances of the team of Lucy Bronze, Ellen White and Beth Mead. The boys’ penalty shootout defeat in July 2021 against Italy, at the Wembley stadium, where the players hoped to win their title, is still in everyone’s memory. A memory that the public now wants to erase.
The place of women in English football seems to have regained its former glory, and their popularity is mostly Dick, Kerr Ladies. Nearly 10 million viewers watched England-Sweden, and up to five million Britons watched the semi-final between France and Germany. This Euro 2022 was also an extraordinary audience success for the BBC, up to 10 times higher than the scores recorded during the competition in 2009, notes The Guardian.
And if many were saddened by the half-empty stands in the group stages, Sunday’s finale will certainly not taste the same. Organized at Wembley Stadium, it should be sold out, i.e. 87,000 seats. IThis could be a record attendance for a Euro final, men and women combined, first in Spain-USSR in 1964, which gathered 79,115 spectators in Madrid (Spain). the middle Georgia Stanway even assured the BBC that players from the men’s team approached them to get their precious sesame seeds for the meeting. Now it is up to English to rise to the challenge.