England won the 2022 FIFA Women’s European Championship, but the biggest winner of the tournament is the sport itself

LONDON – The final whistle of England’s 2-1 Women’s Euro 2022 final win over Germany was chirping until Sunday when “Three Lions” – also known as “Football’s Coming Home” – began ringing from the sound system at Wembley Stadium. . The song has been a curse on English football since its launch in preparation for Euro ’96, but finally, after so many heartbreaking failures for the country’s men and women, England had a team of winners to celebrate at the lionesses of Sarina Wegman. .

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Captain Leah Williamson, Golden Boot winner Beth Meade and other stars – including Ella Tone, Chloe Kelly and Alicia Russo – with their performances over the past month have taken the women’s game to a whole new level and their success. He will ensure a borderless future in England.

For the men, the wait continues to be added to their solo World Cup victory in 1966 – Gareth Southgate’s team may do so at Qatar 2022 later this year – but the women are many years of mischief. Losing twice in the semi-finals at the World Cup, in 2015 and 2019, and losing in the European Championship finals in 1984 and 2009, was a tragic story for England’s women in the major tournaments, but substitute goals Ton and Kelly, on either side of Lena Magul’s No. 79-equivalent The minute for Germany, stamped this team’s place in the history of English football.

The team’s collective success is one thing, and its importance cannot be overstated for a strong, but traditionally underperforming country, such as England. However, the lionesses have done more than just end the country’s long wait for glory. Not only did they bring football back home; They have enabled the game to rediscover its spirit on and off the field.

It may be unfair to make many comparisons between the men’s and women’s match, but with both reaching the Wembley European final in 12 months’ time, it is inevitable that both occasions will be measured against each other. A year earlier, the men’s final match was marred by disgraceful scenes of fan violence outside the stadium, as ticketless fans rushed at turnstiles and physically intimidated children into illegally entering the grounds. An investigation has since confirmed the excessive consumption of alcohol and drugs during the day of the massacre before and after England’s biggest game since 1966.

But for the women’s final, the atmosphere was completely different. It was welcoming and inclusive, as young families were able to mingle without fear of being attacked or verbally abused. There were no offensive cheers, nor boos for national anthems from a crowd of 87,192 – a record for the men’s and women’s European Championships, surpassing the 1964 men’s final, which saw 79,115 anthems for Spain playing the Soviet Union in Madrid. (Also, total tournament attendance ended with 574,875 over the past three weeks, more than double the previous record of 240,055 in 2017).

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Complainers who attach themselves to the men’s game have shown no interest in Euro 2022, which we can be forever grateful for. As Chelsea women’s coach Emma Hayes said on ESPN, “The crowds were huge. It wasn’t hostile.”

Of course, there are many matches in the men’s game that go by without incident and many clubs are a welcoming environment for families, but that was not the case with England for long. The FA must now find a way to make the men’s match as welcoming and friendly as the women’s while a huge audience clearly wants to build on their experience at Euro 2022.

This tournament, and the final, gave us all a reminder of why we fell in love with football in the first place. There was no bullshit or aggravation off the field. While playing, the game was played without the rage and ego that became a regular sideshow in the men’s game. This does not mean that the final was not fiercely contested. Both players threw themselves into challenges, forcing Ukrainian referee Katerina Monzul to issue five yellow cards for physical abuse and fouls. But there was refreshing honesty in it all, as well as the acceptance that the officials were responsible and had the final say, rather than a series of players waiting to argue with them or utter them.

None of the above would really matter, though, if the scenery on the pitch failed to elevate. There has to be quality and determination to excel and win, but both England and Germany showed world-class technical ability in 120 minutes, as did Sweden, France, Spain and the Netherlands in the previous rounds.

Altogether, Euro 2022 showed that there is a depth to the women’s game that deserves the biggest stage possible. Who would forget Russo’s stunning high heel goal in the semi-final against Sweden, or Georgia Stanway’s long-range goal against Spain? What about Alex Pope’s double goal in Germany’s 2-1 semi-final win over France?

The muscle fatigue – suffered during the warm-up period – that forced Bob to withdraw from the final may have cost Germany their chance of winning a record ninth Champions League title. But this was the England Championship, and the way they win will inspire a new generation.

Toone’s stunning opener – a superb ball over Merle Frohms from Keira Walsh’s long pass – was a magical moment, but the honor of scoring the winner fell to Kelly, who converted the ball from close range in the 110th minute before racing away. With a Brandy Chastain-style party, she takes off her shirt and waves it over her head. (The USWNT legend certainly noticed, Twitter(“See you Chloe, well done!”) It earned her the yellow card, sixth in the match, but she also earned England’s final win at Euro 2022, so maybe it was worth it.

The next challenge is the World Cups in Australia and New Zealand in 2023. Who knows if the men’s team will beat them to become world champions later this year. Regardless of whether Harry Kane & Co. Do it, it’s the women who show them how to win.

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