End of Beginnings: England want more Euro wins

LONDON (AP) — In football-crazy England, which sees itself as the home of the sport of the world, women and girls finally have a team full of heroes who look like them.

Some 7,000 singing, dancing, flag-waving fans – many of them mothers and daughters – jammed in central London’s Trafalgar Square on Monday to celebrate England’s victory at the 2022 Women’s European Championships, England’s highest victory in 56 years. First major football win by a team.

The tournament, hosted by England and watched by record spectators on television and in stadiums across the country, was the culmination of years of investment in women’s football that organizers hope would inspire more girls to play the sport, which is played here. known as football.

Madison Fullerd-Jones is already on board.

The 9-year-old from Maidstone, south-east of London, woke up early and came to the capital to celebrate with her mother, aunt, two sisters and a cousin, along with the lioness, as the England football team is known . Wearing an England shirt and waving a flag bearing the National Cross of St George, Madison said she hopes to someday play for England like her favorite player, Georgia Stanway.

“I just want to show how good I am and show that girls can do what boys can do,” she said. “I am fond of football.

England captain Leah Williamson would be proud.

The legacy of the tournament will be “the best kind of change”, Williamson told the crowd.

“The legacy of the tournament was … what we have done for the young girls and women who can see us and aspire to be us,” she said, still wearing the winner’s medal that Prince William presented on Sunday. Night was wrapped around his neck. “I think England has hosted an incredible tournament, and we have changed the game in this country, and hopefully across Europe, around the world.”

England beat Germany 2-1 on Sunday night in an overtime game watched by 87,192 fans at Wembley Stadium, a record for any European Championship final, male or female. The entire tournament attracted 574,875 spectators, more than double the previous record of 240,055 set in 2017 in the Netherlands.

According to Ratings UK, many more were watched on TV, with the finals reaching a peak viewership of 17.5 million viewers and an average audience share of 66%.

The statistics underscore the resurgence of women’s football in England, where men running the sport were once banned from using their facilities for 50 years until the early 1970s.

After the female soccer players of previous generations were forced to support themselves by working outside the game, today’s players are able to focus full time on the game after the creation of a fully professional league in 2018-19.

Now supporters of the sport are targeting increased grassroots participation for continued success.

The Football Association, the sport’s governing body in England, is campaigning for schools in England to provide equal opportunities for boys and girls to play football as part of the curriculum. A recent study found that 72% of primary schools provided equal education to boys and girls, but the figure fell to 44% in secondary schools.

Ian Wright, a former England player, said on the BBC: “The women of this generation have had to fight and scrape and everything.” “Everyone is in tears because it’s a lot of hard work, a lot of pain, a lot of parents, a lot of people working a lot to get them here. … Seizing the grassroots and getting rid of all those obstacles Getting it is up to the FA.”

The match also garnered considerable interest in Germany, where many feel that not enough is being done to support female athletes.

“It is the government’s concern to do more for sports, including women’s football,” government spokesman Wolfgang Buchner said in Berlin on Monday.

He praised the German team for being such a positive role model for young people.

“Perhaps you could say, especially with such depressing news during the summer, that the amazing performance of the German women’s team at this European Championships has done many people in Germany good,” Buchner said.

Supporters of women’s football hope the victory will energize the game in the same way that America’s victory at the 1999 World Cup boosted the sport in America. The game ended with the sports bra-revealing festivities that sealed America’s victory over China at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, slipping off Brandi Chastain’s knee after a penalty shootout.

England’s Chloe Kelly replayed that scene in the closing minutes of Sunday’s final, when she tore her jersey to celebrate her tie-breaking goal in the final minutes of her win over Germany.

Speaking to the crowd on Monday, Kelly joked about their spirited celebrations: “Stay on the shirt!”

“I am proud to wear this badge,” Kelly told the crowd, referring to the England shield on his team shirt. “But I’m even more proud to share the pitch with such an incredible group of players.”

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Ciaran Fahey in Berlin contributed.

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