Euro 2022UEFA Women's EURO England 2022
The UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 tournament held in England is the largest women’s sporting event in European history.
The opening game of Euro 2022 has kicked off at Old Trafford, The Theatre of Dreams itself. Leaving no doubt that this is the largest women’s sporting event in European history. And will remain so for at least four more years in all likelihood.
Popularity of the women’s game in 2022
The Lionesses, the host team for the Women’s Euro 2022 tournament. And they played Austria in that opening game. In front of a crowd of 68,871 who watched England win 1-0. In contrast the average attendance for a Premier League football game in 2018-2019 was 38,181.
And the average attendance at Old Trafford itself for a Manchester United home game is 72,992. A mere 4000 people more. For arguably the most successful football team of modern times in the most widely supported League world-wide.
In addition even Trafalgar Square has been transformed into a Women’s Euro 2022 Fan Zone this month.
Impressive? Perhaps, but looking at the wider picture, perhaps not.
You see Barcelona Femeni have set consecutive world records for the highest attendances in Women’s football. Earlier this year at Camp Nou 91,648 fans were in attendance to watch the Catalans play VfL Wolfsberg.
The Lionesses own record attendance was set at Wembley Stadium in 2019 when they took on Germany. Glossing over the 2-1 defeat for a moment 77,768 fans were in attendance for this game.
And that isn’t even the highest attended Women’s football match played on British soil. That accolade goes to the 2012 Olympics final. Played between the US and Japan which was enjoyed live by 80,023 fans.
Demand for tickets to watch Women’s football has never been higher. And the popularity of the sport is seemingly growing exponentially.
But Has Euro 2022 sold the women’s game short?
All that being said the opening game at Old Trafford is the only game to be played there this tournament. And you might forgive some tournament fans for not recognising many of the other venues.
Especially with the only equally prestigious ground to host a Euro 2022 being Wembley stadium. Which itself only hosts the final game to decide the winner of the tournament. The average capacity for a football ground hosting a game is just 33,000.
Where are the Euro 2022 games being played?
Wembley Stadium in London (89,000 capacity)
Old Trafford in Manchester (74,000 capacity)
Brentford Community Stadium, London (17,000 capacity)
Brighton and Hove Community Stadium (30,000 capacity)
Manchester City Academy Stadium (4,700 capacity)
Stadium MK in Milton Keynes (30,000 capacity)
New York Stadium, in Rotherham (12,000 capacity)
Bramall Lane, Sheffield (32,000 capacity)
St Mary’s Stadium, Southampton (32,000 capacity)
Leigh Sports Village in Leigh (12,000 capacity)
With the exception of Wembley Stadium and Old Trafford no venue selected for Euro 2022 has a capacity over 32,000 people.
The Manchester City Academy Stadium only holds 4,700 people. Therefore it could be argued its inclusion is insulting to the Women’s game and Euro 2022.
The real shame?
The real shame for this years tournament is that while we used the terminology ‘selected venue’, no venues were actually selected!
All stadiums and football venues within England had the opportunity to tender to host a match this Euro 2022. But sadly the take up on such an opportunity was lower than hoped.
Mark Bullingham (FA chief executive) explained last month;
“The absolute truth of it is we did a tender process throughout every major ground and city in the country and there were very few that came forward in wanting to host the Women’s Euros,”
In fact as told by the FA, who by the way began the process of organizing Euro 2022 way back in 2019. Venues had to be persuaded to be part of Euro 2022 and no one was exactly beating down the FAs door to host.
Hope for women’s football now and in the future
Lots has been said about the Women’s game and its future. From informed, rational pieces by Alex Scott a veteran of the game. To frankly quite foolish remarks by the likes of Lord Alan Sugar.
Euro 2022 is in full swing and the future of the game does look bright. In the context of Euro 2022 and tournament football at least.
Popularity of Euro 2022 has taken venues and the media by surprise. Though why it is such a surprise itself is disappointing. And if the FA were to organise a Women’s football tournament today you can be sure venues would be fighting for inclusion.
Even before a ball had been kicked in the opening game 500,000 of the available 700,000 tickets for seats had already been sold. A record for the Women’s Euros.
But the sport and the players are much more than just one tournament. To learn more from inside the game Alex Scotts BBCs film The Future of Women’s Football now is on iPlayer today;