The Lionesses’ Euro success sparks growing interest in women’s football

The Lionesses’ success in the Women’s Euro arouses increased interest in women’s football and remaking a “story” of their exclusion from the game, high-profile figures have claimed.

Women’s football clubs date back to the 1890s in the UK, but the FA banned women’s football in 1921, saying the sport was ‘utterly unsuitable for women’ and warning it should not be ‘encouraged’ . The FA Council revoked the ban in 1971.

Prominent charities have said The Independent that a growing number of Britons had engaged in the ‘drama and spectacle’ of the Lionesses’ victories as they concluded their success would entice more girls to play football.

Data from the Women’s Sports Trust shows 9.5million viewers logged in to watch England beat Sweden 4-0 earlier this weeksetting the record for most-watched UK sports program this year.

The peak viewership surpassed the previous record for the men’s FA Cup final earlier this year, which drew 8.2 million viewers.

Women’s Euro 2022 has already broken viewership and crowd records, and the Lionesses – the nickname given to England’s women’s national football team – are set to take on Germany in the final at Wembley in front of a sold-out crowd. more than 87,000 people on Sunday.

Stephanie Hilborne, chief executive of Women in Sport, said The Independent: “We could see that the Lionesses were carrying a weight on their shoulders during the semi-finals of the Euros on Tuesday evening, which was expressed on the faces and through the emotions of the players at the final whistle.

It was so loud – like a party. Before the semi-final game, there was a PA system and DJs in the stadium – they were playing Whitney Houston’s song “I Want to Dance with Somebody” and everyone was going crazy.

Ceylon Andi Hickman

“It was more than winning a game; it was about reversing a history of exclusion of women.

Ms Hilborne said her research found that twice as many boys as girls aspire to reach the top levels of sport, with only three in 10 girls expressing this wish compared to six in 10 boys.

“Now is where we hope to see meaningful change as the nation comes together to celebrate history in the making,” she said. “It’s so great that so many men and boys are immersed in the drama and spectacle of women’s football because respecting women’s abilities in sport goes hand in hand with respecting women’s lives more broadly.” .

She expressed hope that women’s football would morph into “its own game in its own right” thanks to its high quality.

“What we do know is that if there is gender-equal leadership in sport, the culture is more likely to stay positive,” Ms Hilborne said. “There is no reason for women’s football to follow the same path as men’s football. In fact, there should be a conscious effort to make it unique in itself.

Ceylan Andi Hickman of Football Beyond Borders, a charity that helps young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, said The Independent that a “radical change” had occurred during the Women’s Euro as the demographics of viewers and commentators diversified.

“The atmosphere in the stadiums has been electric,” added Ms Hickman, who attended most of England’s matches during the tournament.

“It’s been so loud – like a party. Before the semi-final game there was a PA system and DJs in the stadium – they were playing whitney houston song ‘I Want to Dance with Somebody’ and everyone was going crazy. They were playing Harry Styles at half time and Doua Lipa at the whistle. Teenage girls were going crazy.

The campaigner, who runs the Girls in Schools programme, noted that the audience for women’s football is “more inclusive” than the audience for men’s games.

“A lot of people want to bring kids into women’s football because there is no toxicity or potential risk. The crowd crosses demographics,” she added.

“That’s what the stage change of this tournament is. You don’t just see the usual suspects in stadiums, discuss it on Twitter or write about it in articles. You see a brand new audiences in stadiums. You could be a six-year-old woman or a 70-year-old woman.

Ms Hickman, who previously ran the women’s football apprentice program at the FA, said men’s football would often see specific chants shouted at German women players, but that was very unlikely to happen in the women’s final against Germany.

She also argued that the Lionesses’ success at the Euros could lead to increased interest from investors and sponsors, as well as encourage more girls to start playing football.

“We are seeing the culmination of years of resources, energy and money,” Ms Hickman said. “We get to know the players.

But she warned against women’s football following the example of men’s football and becoming too corporate or alienating grassroots fans through exorbitant ticket prices.

“It’s a huge risk,” Ms Hickman added. “With any product, demand increases, people see changes, and that takes away some of the things that have been so brilliant in women’s football. It’s a duty of the people who govern and power the game to s’ ensure they protect what makes women’s football great.”

Tammy Parlor, chief executive of the Women’s Sports Trust, said the high viewing figures for the Lionesses’ Euro matches showed women’s football could attract new audiences, as she welcomed “the huge spike in ‘interest”.

“What’s great is that the circulation numbers speak for themselves,” she added. “It brings in more sponsors, more brand engagement, more stability for the domestic game. With women’s sport, fans tend to be more engaged and more interested.

Ms Parlor, who co-founded the trust after the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, added: “Women’s sport has grown, so have we. It’s quite exciting to see where we come from.

“I have the impression that a certain momentum has been created with women’s football. We are in a place where it will only get bigger. It’s a really exciting place. The barriers are knocked down. People have the opportunity to do something they love.

The Lionesses’ Euro success sparks growing interest in women’s football

Source link The Lionesses’ Euro success sparks growing interest in women’s football

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