England women's Euro victory prompts bid to attract women, girls to take up football

(Xinhua) 09:16, August 02, 2022

LONDON, Aug. 1 (Xinhua) -- From the Cinderella of the world of football, a stunning victory by England's roaring Lionesses has prompted a drive Monday to attract 500,000 more women and girls into football.

Wembley Stadium, home of English football, was packed to capacity last Sunday as almost 90,000 fans, mainly women and girls, watched the England squad beat Germany 2-1 in the final of the EUFA Women's Euro.

It was England's greatest footballing success since the men's team beat Germany in the FIFA World Cup final way back in 1966, also at Wembley.

The victory on Sunday was crowned Monday by a tour of central London by the women's squad in an open-topped bus.

Spurred by the success, the British government has unveiled plans to name a network of grassroots football facilities across England in honor of the England team.

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries announced the facilities will be named after the 23 players in and around each of their respective hometowns or places that shaped their footballing careers in honor of their achievements.

It will form part of a 230 million pound (282 million US dollars) investment by the British government to build or improve 8,000 grassroots football and multi-sport facilities by 2025. Each facility must provide access for women's and girl's football, in a move to cement the 2022 team's legacy for generations to come.

Dorries said, "The Lionesses have enjoyed amazing success in a record breaking tournament, selling out all of their matches, with over half a million fans at games throughout the competition.

"Millions of women and girls have been inspired by the team's success and honoring their achievements will mean they leave a lasting impression at grassroots facilities across England."

Dorries said the government will work alongside the Football Association (FA) to achieve an ambition of equal access to football for girls in 90 percent of schools by 2024.

"This will support the FA's ambition for the tournament to create half a million extra opportunities for women and girls to play football," said Dorries.

Ironically, the FA was celebrating the women's victory, just over a century after it banned women in 1921 from even playing on football league grounds, on the basis that "the game of football is quite unsuitable for females and ought not to be encouraged." The ban was eventually officially lifted by the FA in 1971.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) also said that a review of the domestic women's game will launch later this summer, to look at how to grow the game at elite and grassroots level.

The success of the women's team has sparked a debate across England about the vast differences in the world of highly-paid male football heroes, compared to the lowly paid professional women's game. But some sporting commentators believe that will start to change, with higher rewards likely for elite women players. 

(Web editor: Peng Yukai, Hongyu)


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