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

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 experiencing a season of all records, culminating in the European championship which begins next Wednesday at the “Théâtre des Rêves”.

The Italian Cristiana Girelli against the Spanish Alexia Putellas in a warm-up match (1-1).

IMAGO/ZUMA Press

The undeniable momentum of the 2019 Women’s World Cup, yet thwarted by the health crisis, will it start again at the Euro? England salivates in front of the attendance records to come, UEFA promises endowments up to the expected spectacle, but all the debates are not extinguished.

Carried by their supporters, the “Lionesses” are preparing to ignite this Wednesday against Austria an Old Trafford stadium announced sold out for the kick-off of their European Championship, postponed for a year because of the coronavirus.

A record attendance for a match of the Women’s Euro will fall on this occasion, then another on July 31 in the mythical Wembley in London, with more than 85,000 people expected. The big posters fill up and the craze overflows the stadiums.

In England, all the matches will be broadcast on the BBC, therefore on free channels, and the Showcase cinema channel will even show those of the English in its nineteen establishments. In the land of football, women should still burst the screen in line with the 2019 World Cup, when 11.7 million viewers followed the semi-final lost against the Americans, a national record.

Since Sarina Wiegman has been coach, the English have, in 11 matches, scored 80 goals against only one conceded.

Since Sarina Wiegman has been coach, the English have, in 11 matches, scored 80 goals against only one conceded.

Action Images via Reuters

Headwinds

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

Wind of hope, first. New sponsors arrived, TV contracts were concluded for unprecedented amounts, 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 have been full.

Headwind, then. The professionalization of the championships is slow to come, with enclosures still sometimes dilapidated, a meager public and small or medium clubs which are struggling to keep up with the pace of locomotives, such as OL or Chelsea.

“Difficult to draw a balance sheet”

“We all know that after 2019 was complicated with these two years or more of Covid. So it’s very difficult to take stock of the post-World Cup,” Corinne Deacon, France coach, recently summed up. There were “championships at a standstill, a drop in numbers at some point” but “today we are back on a good footing”.

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

If there were still 200,000 tickets left to sell recently, the former German international wants to believe that the show will capture the attention of as many people as possible.

Funding doubled compared to 2017

The set is not lacking in 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 the Netherlands of Vivianne Miedema, reigning European champions. “The top of the pyramid has widened. This is exactly what we need to generate more interest,” Kessler told AFP.

Compared to 2017, UEFA has doubled the overall prize money for the tournament, from 8 to 16 million euros, and introduced the payment of a bonus to clubs that provide players aligned to the Euro, for an amount of 4 .5 million euros (with a minimum of 10,000 euros per player for each club), a mechanism at work for men since 2008.

100,000 euros for victory

In practice, each federation will receive 600,000 euros, to which will be added 100,000 euros for a victory and 50,000 for a draw, then more as the tournament progresses: 205,000 euros for a defeat in the quarter-finals, 320,000 for a failure in the semi-finals, 420,000 for the defeated finalist and 660,000 for the winner. If the latter won all his matches, he will pocket nearly 2.1 million euros

These financial compensations, certainly in progress, do not however cover all the expenses according to the French Football Federation, which has quantified the costs incurred at “2.9 million”. “In this competition, even if you win sportingly, you do not win economically,” summed up Philippe Diallo, vice-president of the FFF, last month.

(AFP)


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