The 2022 Women’s European Championship, held in England, has been a tournament like no other.
Attendance records have been broken multiple times; 68,000 people attended the Lionesses’ opening game against Austria at Old Trafford and the Lionesses’ semi-final TV audience peaked at 9.3 million viewers.
The tournament has seen some incredible support and has been truly embraced. The record for the most fans attending a Women’s Euros was broken during the group stage, passing the previous record of 240,055.
#HerGameToo, a campaign to tackle sexism in football, was founded in May 2022 by 12 female football fans. The campaign originated in Bristol; Caz May and me (Lucy Ford) are life-long Bristol Rovers fans, and Leah Davis and Eve Ralph, are life-long Bristol City fans.
The growth of the campaign has been beyond anything we could have imagined.
We now have partnerships with clubs across the whole football pyramid to ensure football grounds are safe environments for women and girls and we also want to promote and support grassroots girls’ football.
Seeing #HerGameToo flags at games has been a real “pinch-me” moment and Tess, the little girl who sang “Sweet Caroline” after the Lionesses’ semi-final epitomises the next generation that #HerGameToo want to inspire and support.
What The Legacy of the 2022 Women’s Euros Will Be?
The impact of the European Championships will hopefully be a long-lasting, and exciting one for generations to come; it would be truly amazing to see the Lionesses win.
However, Ian Wright, a real ally of women’s football put it best after the Lionesses’ semi-final victory against Sweden, “Whatever happens in the final now, if girls are not allowed to play football just like the boys can in their PE after this tournament, then what are we doing?”.
Amid the excitement of the result, it really put it into perspective the different experiences boys and girls have in schools to play football.
Figures from the I newspaper showed that only 44% of secondary schools in England offer girls equal access to football in PE lessons.
How are girls supposed to potential emulate their heroes if they do not have the opportunity to play it; to be the next Lucy Bronze or the next Beth Mead?
Hopefully, when we reflect on this tournament in the future, I hope that the increase in opportunities and access to women’s football will be a part of the legacy.
Is Football Really Coming Home?
Tuesday evening saw the Lionesses reach their first major final since 2009, ending a run of three successive semi-final defeats. The 4-0 win against Sweden at Bramall Lane saw Beth Mead score her sixth goal of the tournament, with the pick of the four goals scored by Alessia Russo.
The Lionesses will be facing a familiar foe Germany in Sunday’s final at Wembley Stadium, after their 2-1 victory over France. The Lionesses will be looking at avenging the 6-2 Defeat against Germany in the 2009 European Championship Final, on Sunday.
It has been 56 years since England last won a major tournament when England beat West Germany 4-2 after extra time to win the Men’s World Cup at Wembley Stadium in 1966.
Could lightning strike twice? Could the Lionesses go one better than last year and win the European Championships?
Sunday’s final is hoping to attract one of the biggest attendances in women’s football. With millions of viewers tuning in across the UK, Europe and beyond, it is going to be an extremely special occasion for the players, staff, and fans alike.
No matter the result on Sunday, Women’s Football is here, and it’s here to stay and the Lionesses have made the whole country proud.
Good Luck to the Lionesses! It’s #HerGameToo.