Support for women’s football after the
Lionesses success at the Euros
Opinion article for Blues Talk by Olivia Phantis – football fan, guest writer and friend of Burnham FC – 10/08/2022
“The legacy of this tournament is a change in society. It’s everything we’ve done. We’ve brought everyone together. We’ve got people to games and we want them to come to WSL games” – Leah Williamson, England captain.
When the Lionesses entered the pitch at Wembley Stadium on Sunday 31st July 2022, in front of a sell out crowd of 87,192 and a record 17 million television viewers, expectations were high. The country watched with bated breath as England battled against Germany to be crowned European champions, after a 110th minute winner from Chloe Kelly. The support for the team since has been nothing short of incredible.
Women’s teams such as Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City have confirmed they will play a small number of games at the men’s home stadiums, while Leicester City will play the majority of their home games at the King Power Stadium. Demand for tickets has also skyrocketed, with Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United reporting sizable season ticket sales for the new season.
Attitudes towards women’s football have changed drastically over the years, becoming more popular in the last 5 years than it has been since the First World War. Women were banned from playing the sport on FA pitches from 1921 to 1972 due to “complaints having been made … [the FA] Council felt impelled to express the strong opinion that the game of football is quite unsuitable for females and should not be encouraged”. This was only one year after the Dick, Kerr Ladies packed out Goodison Park, the home of Everton, with an attendance of 53,000. The ban set back women’s football in a catastrophic way, so to see it finally get the attention and admiration it deserves is heartening to see.
To continue building on the success of the Lionesses, more support is required from men’s teams to increase the profiles of their counterparts and ultimately their revenue. The huge fan bases that follow the Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City men’s teams (among others) have already helped the growth of women’s football to the level it currently is. Other clubs need to follow this trend, especially those who have established a women’s team later than the rest. Grassroots football also needs to be available to young girls in every part of the country, and encouraged at all levels of the football hierarchy.
Hopefully the incredible scenes at Wembley inspire the country, especially young girls, to either take up football, buy a ticket to their local women’s team or at least watch the upcoming games on the television. Only the fans can help the game grow in the way it needs to become as advanced and exciting as the men’s game, and put women’s football back where it deserves to be.
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