Euro in England: After a successful 2019 World Cup, women’s football wants to confirm

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In full expansion, women’s football is enjoying a record-breaking season culminating in the European Championship, which begins next Wednesday at the Théâtre des Rêves.

The Italian Cristiana Girelli against the Spaniard Alexia Putellas in the warm-up game (1:1).

IMAGO/ZUMA Press

Will the undeniable momentum of the 2019 Women’s World Cup, but thwarted by the health crisis, start again at the Euro? England is drooling over the upcoming attendance records, UEFA promises endowments until the expected spectacle, but all debates are not over yet.

Carried by their supporters, the “Lionesses” prepare to set fire to a sold-out stadium at Old Trafford this Wednesday against Austria for the start of their European Championship, which has been postponed by a year because of the coronavirus.

The occasion will set a record attendance for a Women’s European Championship match, then another on July 31 at London’s mythical Wembley, where more than 85,000 spectators are expected. The big billboards fill up and the enthusiasm floods the stadiums.

In England, all matches are broadcast on the BBC, so on free channels, and the Showcase cinema channel even shows those of the English in its nineteen facilities. In the land of football, the women are likely to burst the screens in time for the 2019 World Cup, when 11.7 million viewers watched the semi-final loss to the Americans, a national record.

Since Sarina Wiegman took charge, England have scored 80 goals and conceded just one in 11 games.

Since Sarina Wiegman took charge, England have scored 80 goals and conceded just one in 11 games.

Action pictures via Reuters

headwind

The World Cup, organized in France, offered unprecedented visibility to the discipline, which has faced headwinds ever since.

wind of hope, first. New sponsors arrived, TV deals were secured for unprecedented sums, the Champions League was reformed with the introduction of a group stage and the arrival of a free online broadcaster (DAZN) and stadiums like the Camp Nou were packed.

So headwind. The professionalization of the championships is progressing slowly, with facilities that are still partially in a state of disrepair, a meager audience and small or medium-sized clubs that are struggling with the locomotives such as OL or Chelsea.

“Difficult to take stock”

“We all know that after 2019 it was complicated with those two or more years of Covid. So it’s very difficult to take stock after the World Cup,” France coach Corinne Deacon summed up recently.

The image of two-speed football finds an extension at this Women’s Championship, with three of the ten stadiums being limited to less than 12,000 seats. “With an increase in capacity (for the whole Euro) from 430,000 to 720,000 spectators, we cannot say that the organizers lacked ambition,” said Nadine Kessler, director of women’s football at UEFA.

If there were 200,000 tickets left for sale, the former German national player wants to believe that the show will attract as many people as possible.

Funding doubled compared to 2017

The set is not short of stars or favorites between Ellen White’s England, Alexia Putellas’ Spain, Wendie Renard’s France, Ada Hegerberg’s Norway, Pernille Harder’s Denmark, Magdalena’s Sweden Eriksson and Vivianne Miedema’s Netherlands, the reigning European champions. “The top of the pyramid has widened. That’s exactly what we need to generate more interest,” Kessler told AFP.

Compared to 2017, UEFA has doubled the total prize money for the tournament from €8m to €16m and introduced the payment of a €4.5m bonus to clubs that put up at least €10,000 per player per club) , a mechanism that has applied to men since 2008.

100,000 euros for the win

In practice, each association receives 600,000 euros, plus 100,000 euros for a win and 50,000 euros for a draw, then more as the tournament progresses: 205,000 euros for a loss in the quarter-finals, 320,000 for a failure in the quarter-finals, 420,000 for the defeated finalists and 660,000 for the winner. If the latter wins all his games, he collects almost 2.1 million euros

However, these financial compensations, which are certainly in the works, do not cover all expenses, according to the French Football Federation, which has put the costs incurred at “2.9 million”. “Even if you win sportingly in this competition, you don’t win economically,” summarized Philippe Diallo, vice-president of the FFF, last month.

(AFP)


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