WWe get used to hearing times in women’s sport – on and off various pitches, fields, courts, pools and tracks – being described as game changing. This could be seen as an overused phrase or an exaggeration given how often it is deployed. Except that women’s sport benefits from a broader movement and advocacy for women in society at large – against sexism and abuse, for reproductive rights and equal pay – and the wide awareness around these questions.
What is no longer acceptable in society at large is not acceptable in women’s sport either and athletes, coaches and the female sport community are taking the lead in demanding better participation and, above all, there is a momentum behind the desire for change.
The reality, then, is that it is no exaggeration to refer to any time or event in women’s sport as a game changer or a game changer, as we are living in a golden age in the development of the sport. feminine, and 2022 does not promise to be any different.
Women’s football has the potential to take a huge leap forward next year, especially in England.
The European Championship at home in England, postponed from summer 2021 to 2022 due to the pandemic, is central. England have already hosted a Women’s Euro in 2005, but the impact has been minimal. So what makes this tournament different? Part of it has to do with the times we live in, when women’s football is championed nationally and internationally like never before.
The 2005 tournament did not enjoy the same level of media coverage and financial support as women’s football today. For the 13th edition of the competition, everything, including the kitchen sink, is thrown over it to ensure it leaves a deep legacy. It remains to be seen how successful or effective this is and there are many variables that will affect the impact of the tournament.
A strong England performance is key, but the preparations have not been easy. Because the host nation qualifies automatically, the Lionesses have missed a number of competitive matches and struggled to host high-quality friendlies due to Covid restrictions. The gap between the 2019 World Cup closing and the start of the 2023 World Cup qualifying campaign in Australia and New Zealand in September 2021 was significant.
This tumultuous time also resulted in Phil Neville leaving earlier than expected, forcing the Football Association to turn temporarily to Hege Riise as England’s interim head coach and GB team manager for the Olympics, ahead of the arrival of Neville’s planned successor, Sarina Wiegman.
Under Wiegman, England have managed to qualify for the World Cup so far, and the Arnold Clark Cup recently launched in February promises to offer its first real warm-up test. Spain, which boasts a number of Champions League stars from Barcelona, ââGermany, the most successful Euro team, and Olympic champions Canada will travel to England to play a tournament at the round consisting of three double tournaments over seven days and will put England qualifying as European title contenders under extreme pressure.
This tantalizing mini-tournament is sandwiched between the second half of a nation’s most-watched season that still has some twists and turns to come. With Arsenal four points ahead of Chelsea at the top of the Women’s Super League, unbeaten but having lost two points in a draw with Brighton, this is the first time in several years that there has not been an air of infallibility around a single team.
The first season with the Sky Sports and BBC Sport broadcast deal provides a level of exposure in preparation for an international women’s tournament like never seen before.
For the reigning European champions, the Netherlands, the boost from the organization of Euro 2017 was enormous. The country was inundated with orange as Dutch fans flocked to support the team’s phenomenal run to the final under Wiegman, who left for England this summer. Yet the national team has tens of thousands of people attending the friendly matches. Yet the profile of women’s football in the Netherlands and the development of the country’s national leagues prior to this tournament is overshadowed by the state of play in England.
The Lionesses will be presented as contenders, but the competition in European women’s football has never been so fierce. Seven of the eight teams in the last quarter-finals of the World Cup were European, only the future champions, the United States, turning the tide.
Whether or not England triumph in July, there is a real opportunity to integrate women’s football into society. Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, France, Sweden, Denmark, Norway and England could, to varying degrees, legitimately aim for the trophy as the level of competition is better than ever, unsettling England’s hopes to emulate the success of the Netherlands.
No less than 700,000 tickets are available throughout the month-long tournament. In the Netherlands, 240,000 attended the matches. The FA sold 162,000 tickets in presale and requested 268,000 tickets through a first polling window in October.
As the Euro closes, the new national season will be on the horizon and positioned to capitalize on any increased interest. Few, if any, countries have succeeded in turning the thirst for international women’s football into an appetite for domestic football. Could 2022 be the year of change? May be.