in England the pressure builds around the “Lionesses” ahead of their first game

Spurred on by a growing fervour, the England squad will take on Haiti for their first match of the World Cup this Saturday. The British are the favorites in the competition.

“The lionesses” are hungry. “The Lionesses” is the nickname of the players of the England team which is one of the favorites of the Women’s World Cup. Already victorious at Euro 2022, the English enter the competition on Saturday 22 July with a first match against Haiti.

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Within a year, the success marked a turning point for women and soccer in the country. First of all because women are doing better than men, without titles since 1966. The victory at the Euro was even seen by over 23 million Britons if we combine TV ratings and live streaming. Beth Mead has won the BBC Sportsman of the Year award, a first for a footballer. The team and coach were also crowned in this well-attended ceremony.

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Beyond the prizes, there are concrete effects: the average number of spectators for the women’s championship in England has risen to 5,400 per game, against less than 2,000 previously. These numbers are carried by the locomotive called Arsenal. Its women’s team played big shows in the huge stadium, the Emirates Stadium, with an average of over 17,500 fans in the stands.

“More girls are playing than ever” welcomes Lucy Staniforth, who has been playing in the top flight for more than 10 years. For the midfielder of the national team “perception is changing in society. It would be great if the World Cup had the same impact.” According to the federation, nearly three and a half million English women play football regularly.

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TV rights of the Women’s Super League, the first division, were renegotiated ahead of the ‘Lionesses’ European crowning, with a record €28m for three seasons. The sum was disbursed by Sky and the BBC, two broadcasters who signed up for the first time, offering greater visibility. Obviously, club officials are hoping for even more money in the upcoming deal.

“We feel a stronger external pressure”

The success of 2022 creates strong expectations also around the national team involved in the World Cup. The disappointment will be great in England if the “Lionesses” do not win the competition. Players are aware of it but try to put it into perspective, like defender Maya Le Tissier: “There are always high expectations for an English team, whatever the sport. Obviously, this year, we feel stronger external pressure. We just want to do the job.”

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