After the wonderful success of the England Women’s team at Euro 2017 in the Netherlands, the FA announced plans today to bid for the 2021 Women’s European Championships. The FA has stated that this is part of its plan to grow women and girls football in England, and it’s great news for all fans of women’s football and football in general.
The FA has committed to help in the growth of women’s football in England, and back in March laid down plans to help grow the participation of women in football. They laid down a fairly aggressive plan, hoping to double the number of women and girls participating in football by 2020. Hosting the Euros will only serve to increase the profile of the women’s game in the UK.
The recent semi-final between The Netherlands and England in Euro 2017 destroyed women’s football viewing records, as 4 million people watched the Lionesses lose in heartbreaking fashion to the tournament hosts. The broadcast beat the previous record for women’s football viewing in the UK, 3.4 million, which was set during the Lionesses quarterfinals win over France just a few days before. To put these numbers in perspective, the Lionesses 4 million viewers were just short of popular soaps Emmerdale and EastEnders, both of which drew between 4.5 to 5 million viewers.
The United States has long been one of the countries in the forefront of women’s football, in no small part because of the number of times the country has hosted the Women’s World Cup. Make no mistake about it, the United States hosting, and winning the 1999 Women’s World Cup was huge for the growth of the women’s game in the US. Even though women’s leagues have come and gone in the US, none of them would even have been attempted if it wasn’t for the passion and excitement that surrounded those matches.
So what does this mean for Leeds, exactly? Well, Leeds would be a top choice to host at least one of the matches for the 2021 tournament, as Leeds has experience hosting Euro matches, as they did in 1996, and also in hosting international rugby events. Having the girls and young women of Leeds witness such a tournament first hand will only serve to increase the profile of women’s football in Leeds and West Yorkshire.
We’ve gone over the reasons that it is important for Leeds United to have a Ladies team, and the growth of women’s football is great for both the club in terms of marketing and fanbase growth but also for increasing the talent pool available for future Lionesses teams. As we’ve said before, the growth of women’s football is more than just a feel good story, but a vital part of the growth and sustainability of football. Having England host the Women’s 2021 Euros would be a brilliant move towards increasing the profile of women’s football across England and in Leeds.