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Day 25: What will we take away from Euro 2022?
With the final of Euro 2022 taking place tomorrow, it seems hard to believe how fast July has gone. With 30 matches played and 92 goals scored, we now have only one game until we find out whether Germany will extend their European Championship dominance or if England will follow up The Netherlands by becoming consecutive winning hosts. But how will we look back on this tournament?
The quality within women’s football is only getting higher
It is probably self-evident but this has been one of the highest quality women’s football tournaments that has been seen. The historic underinvestment (and active sabotage) of women’s football has in the past placed an artificial ceiling on the talent of the players. We are now seeing players coming through into their national teams who have spent large portions of their life in quasi-professional environments. They are fitter, stronger and technically better. This is only going to carry on increasing in future years.
2. But federations are still not necessarily giving players the support they deserve
Despite the successes of some teams at this tournament, there have been notable failures too. It has been clear to see that there are still nations which have not taken seriously their hiring when it comes to coaches. But importantly, as other countries do take it seriously, those decisions have become stark. The transformation of England under Sarina Wiegman is just one example of how bringing experienced and proven managers can take teams to the next level. Yes, England had reached semi-finals under Mark Sampson and Phil Neville but they did not play like this. England making the final is also justification for the huge amounts of money the Football Association has poured into the national set up. England are one of the best funded women’s national teams in the world and it is showing. There are other countries with the talent to do the same if they make the right financial and technical decisions.
3. If you treat women’s football seriously, other people will too
Euro 2022, from England at least, has been exemplary in terms of how it has been covered. Grounds have been for the most part full and atmospheric. The television coverage has been considered and serious, with all teams being given the same respect in terms of analysis. Tactics have been unpackaged but the human side of the sport has been kept.
It is obviously not perfect. The concerns around the stadiums chosen were legitimate and there has been the usual increase in attention as England have progressed. Maybe it would have felt different if England had gone out against Spain at the quarter-final stage. But the quality and enthusiasm has reinforced that women’s football is worth taking seriously. It is something that has begun in the Women’s Super League too with Sky’s coverage. Hopefully, it extends further into the game and continues to put women’s football on the pedestal it deserves.