Here's how Euro 2022 can spur growth in women's football in England.


Here's how Euro 2022 can spur growth in women's football in England.


The European Championship in 2022 has all the makings of a game-changing event for women's football in England.

The final between England and Germany had a peak broadcast audience of 17 million viewers, the largest UK audience for a programme in 2022 so far. In the group stages of the competition, attendance records were broken, and 87,192 spectators watched the final, which is the highest number to watch a men's or women's Euro match.

We do, however, need to be cautious when it comes to assertions that women's athletics experienced watershed events. Major soccer competitions in the US haven't really changed how women's sports are covered in the media. We must make sure that women's football is not pushed back to the periphery after everything is said and done.

We have done research on the reasons why people in the US and England support women's football. Here are some crucial ideas for building on the Euro 2022 competition and securing the future of English women's football based on our results.

Make football available to all school-aged females

The emotive plea for girls' access to the beautiful game made by former Arsenal and England player Ian Wright during the celebrations following England's semi-final victory was difficult for viewers to ignore.

Whatever happens in the final, Wright questioned: "What are we doing if females aren't permitted to play football in their PE class like guys can? Only 63 per cent of schools presently provide girls' football in PE classes, according to the Football Association.

According to research, females' interest in sports can wane as they approach adolescence. According to a recent survey by the non-profit Women in Sport, 68 per cent of young girls who claimed they "used to be sporty" no longer participated because they felt judged.

Gaining basic access to football in physical education was a problem in our research. Football access disparities cut across generations. Even younger English women football supporters have encountered a gender gap in physical education that prevented them from participating in the sport.

To guarantee equal access to all sports in physical education at school, significant efforts must be performed. Instead of separating students by sport, the government may, for instance, make it mandatory that boys and girls participate in the same sports at school.

Football must be available to females wherever it is offered to boys, and the same is true for other sports. As we move toward the 2023 Women's World Cup and beyond, more opportunities to play the sport will be crucial to its growth.

Televise Women's Football

Even for games that did not feature England or Northern Ireland, Euro 2022 has drawn millions of spectators in Britain, demonstrating the interest in watching women's football in general. According to our study of fans, viewing women's football championship games on television plays a significant part in sparking interest in the sport, with many people going on to become ardent supporters. Because of this, women's football needs to place a high priority on respectable media coverage.

One of us, Stacey Pope, conducted research that demonstrates how exposure to women's football through television coverage can occasionally alter perceptions. This may cause some males to display overtly progressive ideas instead of blatantly misogynistic ones. In the research survey, one man said:

My personal perspective on the sport was altered by it. Before watching the [Women's] World Cup, I used to think it was a little bit of a joke, but now I feel the opposite.

Lessons for Football Men's

The inclusiveness of fan communities during the women's game is one of the obvious distinctions between men's and women's football. According to our research, 39% of English supporters cited perceived inclusion as their primary reason for attending games. Participants in our study believed that women's football was inclusive of women, kids, and LGBTQ+ supporters.

Women's football was frequently compared to men's football because fans thought it was a "safer" environment with less profanity, intoxication, and roughness. Female football supporters called the male football culture in the UK "daunting" and perceived the crowd as "angry" and "aggressive."

To see this in action, all we need to do is compare pictures of fans at Euro 2022 matches with the unrest during the men's Euro 2020 final the previous year. According to recent research by the Football Supporters Association, 20% of women who attended men's games reported receiving unwelcome physical attention, and 34% reported hearing sexist remarks. Women's football demonstrates that football fandom can be a welcoming community.

The commitment to gender equality was a driving force for some of the supporters in our survey (22 per cent of England fans). The Euro 2022 tournament offers the perfect forum for having these challenging discussions about gender disparity in football and how to address it.

The Euros in 2022 have demonstrated a great interest in women's football. Keeping it in the attention it so well deserves will now be the difficulty. The problems of gender inequality that are so pervasive in society cannot be resolved by a single major event. But taking these recommendations to heart would go a long way toward ensuring that this tournament leaves something behind.

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