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Euro 2022 was a watershed moment for football

McKenna - Klein Nicholas Kommentarbild App
Nick McKenna-Klein
July 31, 2022

Euro 2022 has been a rollercoaster ride for all involved and looks set to ring in fundamental changes to the women's game. DW's Nick McKenna-Klein is glad this tournament has got people talking and thinking differently.

England's players lift the trophy after winning Euro 2022
The start of a new era for England - and for women's football in general Image: Lisi Niesner/REUTERS

As usual ahead of an international women's football tournament, there was a limited amount of interest. Don't get me wrong, it was considerably more than it had been in the past, but nothing in comparison to a men's tournament.

And to be fair, that may have been a good thing. Why? It meant that Euro 2022 could fly under the radar and proceed to knock everyone's socks off!

This may not have come as a surprise to people who watch and cover women's football regularly. But for those who don't, it was.

I am certain that many of those watching, reading and listening were absolutely gobsmacked by the quality of football they were presented.

Popp-Stars, Lionesses and role models

This tournament and its players grabbed fans by the heartstrings and took them on a rollercoaster ride.

Whether it was England's ultimately triumphant Lionesses scoring goal after goal with their full-throttle football to keep even the most neutral fan on the edge of their seat. Or Germany's Alexandra Popp, who at 31 made her Euros debut after years of injuries and setbacks to score in every single game before cruelly having to withdraw injured just minutes before the final.

My dad, a German in his mid-70s who has seen his fair share of national team success over the years, texted me after Popp's second goal again France in the semifinal saying: "I can't remember when I last celebrated a Germany goal like this. She's amazing! They're amazing!"

It's stories like the ones we've seen at Euro 2022 that capture the hearts of those watching. And if these players can get a pensioner with creaky knees and a stiff back to celebrate more than he has in years, there's no limit to the inspirational role they could have on the young children who were watching too.

So don't be surprised the next time you see kids playing football and the names on the jerseys are no longer Messi, Ronaldo or Neuer, but Popp, Mead and van Domselaar.

Viewership and wages

Euro 2022 has seen a massive increase in viewership, not just in the stadiums where record upon record was broken, but from the comfort of people's couches and TV screens at home, too. Almost 18 million people watched  England beat Germany in the final –  a 65% market share on the night. Quite incredible.

It was unfortunate that the final wasn't scheduled for prime time television, and that the tournament had to compete with men's football which has started earlier than usual due to the men's World Cup in Qatar in November - but that's an issue of its own. On the other hand, Euro 2022 hasn't had a summer men's World Cup to compete with.

Nevertheless, the next step has to be to capitalize on this success and make fundamental changes.

Germany coach Martina Voss Tecklenburg is clear: "We want more equality of talent, better stadiums, we want to get more spectators, we want more time on TV, better kickoff times." Facilities and wage structures also need to be addressed.

Where do we go from here?

There will always be people who, for whatever reason, are anti-women's football and nothing will change their minds.

That's a genuine shame for them because they don't see what they're missing: high energy, plenty of action, and pure raw emotion.

This is a watershed moment for the women's game. The domestic season gets underway next month, with the Champions League soon to follow before it all ends with the 2023 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. I can't wait!

Edited by Matt Ford.