Euro 2021 a 'game changer' for English women's football: FA executive
The Women's Euro 2021 could have the same positive impact on women's sport as the 2012 London Olympics, says Football Association executive Marzena Bogdanowicz.
The women's game in England has enjoyed a surge in popularity on the back of the success of Phil Neville's national side, who reached the World Cup semi-finals this year, with a TV audience of more than 11 million tuning in watch their semi-final defeat by the United States.
Bogdanowicz pinpointed Euro 2021, being hosted by England, as a huge opportunity to boost the game further.
"Euro 2021 will be the next big game changer," she told the SportsPro FAN Conference in London.
"Before that there will be a Team GB football team at the Tokyo Olympics so take the size of football and multiply that into what the Olympics normally does when it comes around and it will be an incredible summer.
"Euro 2021 will take this country in the same way as the 2012 Olympics did and I think it will have the same impact on women's sport."
Bogdanowicz, the FA's head of marketing and commercial for women's football, has the figures to back her up.
More than 75,000 tickets (priced at £10 for adults and £1 for children) have been sold for the friendly at Wembley with Germany on November 9.
That compares with a crowd of around 70,500 at Wembley for Team GB's match against Brazil in the women's competition at the 2012 Olympics.
And interest is also growing in the domestic game, with more than 62,000 supporters attending opening fixtures in the Women's Super League compared with a reported 92,000 across all 110 WSL games last season.
In an effort to promote the game further, the FA announced the first Women's Football Weekend in November, with a men's international weekend creating a pause in the Premier League and Championship calendars.
The FA is calling on supporters to attend a women?s match at any level in the pyramid on November 16 and 17.
Kelly Simmons, the FA's director of women's professional game, said the weekend would be "another great moment in a year that has seen huge momentum behind the growth in popularity of women?s football".
Another sign of the increasing profile of women's football is the tie-up between the FA and Barclays, who earlier this year were announced as the title sponsor of the WSL.
Katy Bowman, senior sponsorship partnerships manager at Barclays, said women's football was the right fit for the company.
"I have met so many young women in their teens or their 20s who are new to London looking for friendship and companionship and found it through football but there are still not enough places for them to do that," she said.
"We wanted to make sure we were creating the next generation of strong and confident women."
Bowman admitted that the impressive figures for the opening weekend of the season could not be replicated every week but she is confident that in the long term a whole swathe of new fans can be attracted to the sport.
© 2019 AFP