Euro 2022: the biggest women’s sporting event in European history kicks off

Coach Sarina Wiegman calls on England players to ‘make everyone proud’
Host country : England Appointment: July 6-31 Site (s : Old Trafford, Manchester; St Mary’s Stadium, Southampton; Amex Stadium, Brighton; MK Stadium, Milton Keynes; Brentford Community Stadium; Leigh Sports Village; Bramall Lane, Sheffield; Academy Stadium, Manchester; New York Stadium, Rotherham; Wembley Stadium.
Cover: All 31 matches will be broadcast live on the BBC. Click here for more information

The European Women’s Championship got off to a strong start on Wednesday as hosts England beat Austria 1-0 in front of a record crowd at Old Trafford.

The organizers had said “let’s go and make history” and England’s first group game was watched by 68,871 – the highest attendance for a European Women’s Championship game.

It is the first of 31 matches over 25 days which are all shown live on the BBC.

Half a million ticketsexternal link were sold – twice as many as the previous Euros in the Netherlands in 2017 – with the final being sold out at Wembley on July 31.

England are favorites to win Euro 2022, according to data analysts Grace notes from Nielsen.external link

Sixteen teams – including debutants Northern Ireland and holders the Netherlands – are taking part in the first European Women’s Championship to be held in England since 2005.

First women’s Euros for five years

The Women’s Euro usually takes place every four years and, after the Netherlands won it in 2017, it should have taken place in 2021.

It was pushed back 12 months after the 2020 European Men’s Championship and Tokyo 2020 Olympics were both postponed to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

When England hosted the tournament in 2005, North West venues – Blackpool, Manchester, Blackburn, Warrington and Preston – were used.

This time around matches are being staged across the country, although no venues in the Midlands or North East are hosting matches.

It will also be the first time that the Video Assistant Referee technology will be used at a European Women’s Championship.

Low-cost tickets and record crowds

UEFA has made over 700,000 tickets available. The previous edition held in the Netherlands was watched by 240,045 fans.

Ticket prices have been kept low to attract families. They ranging from £5 to £50external link meaning a family of four can watch a game for as little as £30.

The decision to use the Manchester City Academy Stadium – which will have a capacity reduced to less than 5,000 for the Euros – has been criticised.

“It’s embarrassing,” said Icelandic midfielder Sara Bjork Gunnarsdottir, whose side play two of their three group matches at the home of women’s side Manchester City. “It’s disrespectful to women’s football because it’s so much bigger than people realize.”

Nearly 100,000 international fans are expected to attend the matches while a global audience of over 250 million viewers are expected to watch.

There is pressure on organizers to put on an event that attracts fans beyond the Euros.

“We are confident that many matches will be sold out and we hope to more than double the total attendance for UEFA Women’s Euro 2017 in the Netherlands,” a Euro 2022 spokesperson said.

Which countries are participating – and who are the big winners?

Germany are by far the most successful team in the tournament’s history with eight wins, including six in a row between 1995 and 2013. The other winners are Norway (1987, 1993), Sweden (1984) and the Netherlands -Bas (2017).

Six of the world’s top 10 take part: Sweden (2nd in the Fifa rankings), France (3rd), the Netherlands (4th), Germany (5th), Spain (7th) and England (8th).

The 16 teams are divided into four groups of four. The top two advance to the quarter-finals, where it becomes a direct knockout.

England boss Sarina Wiegman led her native Netherlands to European glory five years ago.

While the Lionesses are expected to win by Nielsen’s Gracenote, they are planning a “wide open tournament” with Sweden, Germany, France and the Netherlands strong contenders.

“There is almost an 80% chance that this year’s European champions will come from this quintet,” they add.

Group A: England, Austria, Norway, Northern Ireland. Site (s : Manchester (Old Trafford), Southampton, Brighton.

Group B: Germany, Denmark, Spain, Finland. Site (s : Milton Keynes, Brentford.

Group C: Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, Portugal. Site (s : Leigh, Sheffield (Bramall Lane).

Group D: France, Italy, Belgium, Iceland. Site (s : Manchester (Academy Stadium), Rotherham.

Five players to watch

Ada Hegerberg (Norway): Left the national team in 2017 to protest a perceived lack of respect for female players, but the first Ballon d’Or winner returned to the international stage in April and is looking to make her mark at Euro 2022.

Vivianne Miedema (Netherlands): The Arsenal striker is at the top of her game and hopes to add another European title to her CV after helping the Netherlands win Euro 2017.

Pernille Harder (Denmark): The Chelsea midfielder is Denmark’s all-time top scorer and led them to the Euro 2017 final.

Lauren Hemp (England): The 21-year-old Manchester City winger, who has been named the Women’s Super League Young Player of the Year for a record fourth straight season, has been on fire for club and country, winning plaudits for her runs eye-catching and Goals.

Wendie Fox (France): The Lyon defender, 31, has won a record 14 French league titles and eight European Cups and is club and country captain.

Will England be up to it?

The pressure is on the Lionesses to deliver a first European crown in front of their own supporters.

They have come close twice before, finishing runners-up to Sweden in the inaugural Women’s Euro in 1984 before reaching the final again in 2009 only to lose to Germany in Finland.

Since Wiegman took over as manager in September 2021, England are unbeaten in 14 matches and in February won the first Arnold Clark Cup – a competition that featured Olympic champions Canada, Spain and two-time world champions Germany.

of Arsenal Lea Williamson will be the captain of the Lionesses.

“It will be the biggest women’s event ever in Europe,” Wiegman told BBC Sport.

“It’s going to be really exciting but it can also cause a bit of stress. There are going to be expectations but we have to accept them.

“It’s a chance to make everyone proud.”

This England team is pretty solid – Williamson

Will Northern Ireland shine?

Euro 2022 marks a great moment in the history of women’s football in Northern Ireland. The national team only reformed in 2004 after being disbanded at the turn of the century.

Whatever happens this month, Northern Ireland have already defied the odds to reach one of the sport’s biggest milestones as a team made up largely of part-timers.

In preparation for Euro 2022, 22 national players took part in a seven months full time professional program.

Kenny Shiels’ side are the lowest ranked team in the competition – 47th in the world.

In April, Shiels said “women are more emotional than men” referring to his side’s 5-0 loss to England in a World Cup qualifier.

His remarks drew criticism and Shiels apologized saying, “I’m proud to lead a group of players who are role models for so many girls and boys across the country.”

Highlights: Northern Ireland 2-0 Ukraine

How to watch Euro 2022 on the BBC

The BBC will give the public 24/7 access to all action, analysis and news broadcast on TV, radio and online during the tournament.

Every England and Northern Ireland game will be shown live on BBC One. Most games will be BBC One or Two, with all 31 games on BBC iPlayer. Former Arsenal and England players Alex Scott and Ian Wright are among the experts.

BBC Radio 5 Live will also provide commentary on selected games.

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