One of the biggest football tournaments of the year is starting today (Wednesday 6th July) at 8pm, the Women’s Euro 2022 – with England taking on Austria.
The tournament follows hot on the heels of record breaking attendances for women’s football across Europe, including Barcelona setting a new world record attendance figure of 91,648 for the first leg of its Champions League semi-final. In England, the club attendance record was broken with 49,094 attending the FA Cup final at Wembley, whilst similar records were smashed in France and Sweden.
The Euros is set to be a momentous event, with ticket sales almost doubling since the 2017 tournament in Holland before a ball has even been kicked.Tournament hosts England, known as the Lionesses, are aiming to win the trophy for the first time in its 40 year history.
Do England have a chance of winning?
England are one of the favourites to win (behind Spain), despite having fallen short recently at the 2017 Euros and 2019 World Cup. However, with a rising young talent in Lauren Hemp, support from a large partisan crowd and home advantage, optimism is high.
In terms of the competition, Holland are the current holders, whilst Germany are Europe’s most successful team as eight-time winners. Spain’s position as favourites coincides with many of their squad playing for Barcelona, who are the reigning European club champions. France are ranked third in the world with top players from Lyon and PSG, and one to look out for. And don’t discount Sweden, who finished third in the 2019 World Cup and have been runners-up in the last two Olympic Games.
The group stages are set to get us off to an explosive start, with Group B (Germany, Denmark, Spain, Finland) drawing in lots of attention as the archetypal ‘Group of Death’ – meaning a fancied nation will be bowing out early on. Expect excitement and shocks throughout the tournament with so many high-class teams in the race for the trophy.
The Euros coincides with a booming time for the viewing of women’s sport, with 15.1 million people watching more than 3 minutes of women’s sport coverage between January to March 2022, compared to just 5.06 million in 2021.
Not only has there been a rise in viewing there is an increase in repeat viewing, with 57% of viewers in 2022 having also previously watched women’s sports in 2021. Additionally, 33% of viewers have watched women’s sport three or more times so far this year (compared to 17% in 2021) which shows there has also been an increase in the frequency of viewing women’s sport.
To help further this growth within women’s football, tournaments like the Euros need to be easily accessible.The BBC are covering this year’s UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 and have committed to showing all games but four, live on BBC One and Two. This is a development compared to the tournament in 2013, when games were shown on BBC Three – a linear channel at the time, as it has become again recently. This follows the record breaking deal between the BBC and Sky Sports with The FA to broadcast the English Women’s Super League (WSL) as broadcasters increasingly demonstrate their commitment to the women’s game.
The BBC director of sport, Barbara Slater, said “This is our most ambitious broadcast commitment to a major women’s football tournament”.
In line with this, there is also extra content from the BBC to keep an eye out for during the Euros, with BBC Sounds having a Daily Euros Podcast to maximise exposure and interest. BBC Sport has also released a new documentary about the explosion in popularity of women’s football in the shape of Alex Scott: The Future of Women’s Football.
UEFA are also demonstrating their commitment to coverage of the Women’s Euros by supplying increased content on their Women’s Euro App and evolving their multiple social media pages. This includes their TikTok account ‘womensfootball’ which is aiming to increase engagement with a younger demographic.
Leaving a legacy
The FA have committed themselves to implementing new strategies that are focused on investing in the future of women’s football. These strategies have focused on inspiring younger girls starting out in the sport, by making football a diverse and fun environment with improved coaching and opportunities. They also include ensuring access for every girl and woman that wants to be involved in the game.
Such commitments are positive for the future of women’s football, with these Euros set to “turbo-charge” the game both now and in the future. As England captain Leah Williamson put it “We’re here for the long run and we’re building something for future generations and, hopefully, something sustainable”.
It’s all a far cry from the last time England hosted the tournament back in 2005, when players were part-time and there were only eight teams competing. Things have moved on and many will be hoping that Euro 2022 leaves a long lasting positive impact for the future of women’s football – and women’s sport in general.