Manchester, England – A year later than expected, the countdown to the European Women’s Championship begins on Thursday with the draw for Euro 2022 in Manchester.
England will host the tournament from July 6-31, which hope to break attendance records for women’s football with Manchester United’s Old Trafford as the setting for the opener ahead of a final at Wembley.
The hosts hope this home advantage will help them win a major international women’s tournament for the first time.
The Lionesses have fallen in the semi-finals of each of the last two World Cups and Euro 2017.
England are sure to kick off the tournament at Old Trafford, with organizers hoping for an attendance that will break the standing record of 41,300 for a European Women’s Championship match.
Reigning champions Netherlands, France and Germany are the other seeds and contenders for the tournament, with Sweden Olympic silver medalists and a rapidly improving Spanish side filled with Champions League winners who play their football club for Barcelona.
Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Italy, Northern Ireland, Norway, Russia and Switzerland are the other qualified for a tournament that UEFA hopes to be the most major European female sporting event in terms of attendance.
Premier League stadiums in Brentford, Brighton and Southampton will host matches, as well as smaller venues in Leigh, Manchester, Milton Keynes, Rotherham and Sheffield.
“With that came the need to find the right balance for the tournament. Set an ambitious ticket target – with over 700,000 tickets available to fans – while striving to reach full venues where possible, ”said Sue Campbell, Director of Women’s Football at the English Football Association.
“It’s a balance that we believe we have achieved in the selected venues and cities, with England’s Lionesses scheduled to play all of their group stage games at Premier League pitches across the country.”
Women’s football has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic at a time when participation and popularity increased rapidly after a successful 2019 World Cup in France.
As governing bodies scrambled to restart men’s competitions as soon as possible to secure lucrative broadcast income, even the end of women’s football’s elite has been treated as an afterthought.
The Lionesses have not played a game for almost a year between March 2020 and February this year, while the 2019-20 Women’s Super League season ended with almost a quarter of games remaining. .
UEFA also set back the Women’s Euro by one year to allow the Men’s Euro 2020 to take place earlier this year.
But UEFA’s head of women’s football, Nadine Kessler, defended the move to give “maximum exposure to women’s football and the goal of giving the tournament the central place it deserves”.
This call was facilitated by a scarce space in the men’s football calendar due to the late start of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
After staying too long in the shadows, Europe’s best players will once again have a stage to shine on.
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