View from the terraces

England’s Women’s Euro final run must leave a lasting legacy

The Lionesses are ‘ready to write history’ – but will the impact be for the long term?

Sarina Wiegman’s England squad are “ready to write history” after they thrashed Sweden 4-0 to reach the final of the Uefa Women’s Euro 2022. At Bramall Lane in Sheffield the Lionesses turned on the style as they powered past the world’s second-highest ranked team with goals from Beth Mead, Lucy Bronze, Alessia Russo and Fran Kirby.

The victory over Sweden ended England’s semi-final hoodoo after losses at the 2017 Women’s Euros and the 2019 and 2015 World Cups. They will now play Germany in Sunday’s showpiece at Wembley Stadium in London (5pm kick-off, live on BBC One). 

Sunday will represent England’s third appearance in the competition’s final, said Sky Sports. At the inaugural Women’s Euros in 1984 they were beaten on penalties by Sweden after the two-legged final ended 1-1 on aggregate. Then in 2009 they lost 6-2 to Germany. 

Should England triumph at Wembley it would also see Wiegman win the tournament for the second time in succession. She led her native Netherlands to victory in 2017. 

Legacy programme goals 

Before and throughout the tournament Wiegman has spoken about how the Lionesses had aimed to “inspire the nation” at their home Euros. When asked in the post-match press conference if the win over Sweden was a statement to their rivals, she said: “Yes, I think so. We said we’re ready to write history and this is it.”

When England won the bid to host this year’s tournament, the Football Association (FA) said it hoped that the major event would “inspire positive change” and develop the women’s and girls’ game in Sheffield, Rotherham, Manchester, Trafford, Wigan and Leigh, Milton Keynes, London, Southampton and Brighton & Hove.

As part of the FA and Uefa’s Women’s Euro 2022 legacy programme, the three main goals were to “give access for all girls to play football in school and clubs”; create a diverse workforce of coaches, referees and local leaders “delivering and organising football for their communities”; and provide inclusive, safe and welcoming environments for “every woman and girl to play competitive or recreational grassroots football, irrespective of ability, disability, age or ambition”.

Head coach Wiegman believes that the team’s performances are “making a difference” and that the “whole country is proud” of the progress. “Even more girls and boys will want to play football.”

End the ‘eyebrow-raising disparities’

Watching the semi-final from the gantry at Bramall Lane, BBC pundit Ian Wright said he felt “as proud as I’ve ever felt of any England side”. However, the former Arsenal and England striker did send a warning to the authorities who run the game. “Whatever happens in the final now, if girls are not allowed to play football in their PE, just like the boys can, what are we doing?” he said. “We have got to make sure they are able to play and get the opportunity to do so. If there’s no legacy to this – like with the Olympics – then what are we doing.” 

This year’s European Championship has “caught the imagination of football fans and the wider public” and the women’s game is “undoubtedly, having a moment”, said Marie-Christine Bouchier, the Professional Footballers’ Association’s director of women’s football, writing in The Guardian. England’s performances have led the newspaper back pages and “even more of the players are becoming household names”. 

The real legacy, however, “must be true parity” for female footballers in England, Bouchier added. In April the government endorsed ten key strategic recommendations set out in a fan-led review of football in England. Published in November 2021 by former sports minister Tracey Crouch, a number of “detailed recommendations” were made, including that women’s football “should be treated with parity and given its own dedicated review”.

“Now is the perfect time” to launch the promised review and “end eyebrow-raising disparities”, Bouchier said. “It’s an opportunity that we need to make sure we don’t miss.”

Recommended

Commonwealth Games: an ‘uncertain’ future?
The 2022 Commonwealth Games closing ceremony at Alexander Stadium in Birmingham
Behind the scenes

Commonwealth Games: an ‘uncertain’ future?

Premier League: what we learned from the opening weekend
Erling Haaland scored both goals on his Premier League debut for Manchester City
View from the terraces

Premier League: what we learned from the opening weekend

F1 ‘silly season’ hits top speed as 2023 grid takes shape
Oscar Piastri denied he would be driving for Alpine in 2023
Behind the scenes

F1 ‘silly season’ hits top speed as 2023 grid takes shape

Football club accidentally names stand after Rose West
rose-west.jpg
Tall Tales

Football club accidentally names stand after Rose West

Popular articles

Is World War Three on the cards?
Ukrainian soldiers patrol on the frontline in Zolote, Ukraine
In Depth

Is World War Three on the cards?

Will China invade Taiwan?
Chinese troops on mobile rocket launchers during a parade in Beijing
Fact file

Will China invade Taiwan?

Why cats prefer people who hate them
A cat
Tall Tales

Why cats prefer people who hate them

The Week Footer Banner