Enjoying the Women’s Euros 2022

So I’m writing this halfway through the group stages of the women’s Euros 2022 – a record breaking competition that is seeing more people attend than ever before. I’ve managed to get hold of tickets for several games and the first at Bramall Lane has the highest ever attendance for a non-host group game. It was great to see, great to be there – and the more I think about it, the more the women’s game has got going for it than the men’s.

Before the first England game at old Trafford

To start with, even though the women’s game has become much more popular in recent years, it’s still possible to get tickets for the games. The later stages seem to have sold out now, but if you were organised in advance you can get hold of many more tickets than you would get for the men’s Euros, so it’s easier to become more immersed in the tournament. Attending the games is nothing like watching on TV. Next, the atmosphere inside the ground is immense. There are thousands of foreign fans that have traveled here for the games, bringing colour and music and vibrant singing. Yesterday I was sat in the middle of thousands of Swedes, all in yellow and very excited to be beating Switzerland. Is also a family atmosphere. It’s pleasant. You’re not likely to get the drunken guy behind you dropping the C bomb every few minutes, as can happen at any men’s game. And when the players take the knee, there’s rapturous applause rather than booing.

France playing Italy at Rotherham

The action on the pitch has been variable. Like in any tournament there are teams that are incredibly good and those lagging behind. So the games have been a mix, but they’ve contained far less cheating than I’m used to watching in League 1 when teams visit Hillsborough. There’s been no time wasting. Very little diving. Hardly any rolling about on the floor. It’s generally played with good nature.

Swedes at Bramall Lane

I’ve loved getting involved with this tournament so far and am enjoying the scenes on and off the pitch. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll still be rocking up for the start of the EFL season on July 30 and I’m looking forward to it. But when you see casual sexism about this women’s competition banded about Twitter, when you see people making snide remarks about whether there are make presenters, when you hear people at the games genuinely surprised that the atmosphere and game are good – you realise there’s still a way to go. It’ll get there, but the more genuine football fans they jump aboard, the easier and quicker that journey will be.

Published by peternaldrett

I'm a writer who contributes to newspapers and magazines on a regular basis and has also published several outdoor guides to the Peaks, Lakes and Yorkshire Dales. I write educational material for multiple publishers and have just finished writing my first book for Bloomsbury - out in 2019. My new Peak District Year Round Walks is out now.

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