euro thriller | 

Women’s football is here to stay – and it’s time to end the most ludicrous debate of them all

We need to stop comparing men’s and women’s football and secondly, we need to end the ludicrous and misguided debate over equal pay at club level.
England's Beth Mead celebrates scoring their side's first goal of the game during the UEFA Women's Euro 2022 Group A match at Old Trafford, Manchester. Picture date: Wednesday July 6, 2022.

England's Beth Mead celebrates scoring their side's first goal of the game during the UEFA Women's Euro 2022 Group A match at Old Trafford, Manchester. Picture date: Wednesday July 6, 2022.© PA

Kevin PalmerSunday World

THE Euro 2022 finals started with a shroud of pessimism but could end with the biggest crescendo imaginable for the women’s game.

As has long been the story when women’s football is the topic of conversation, snipes and pessimism dominated the social media coverage ahead of the opening matches of the finals.

Type in women’s football in Google videos and what popped up before this summer’s tournament were videos of horrendous goalkeeping gaffs and clips that have been designed to ridicule.

Then we have the ongoing debate over female pundits covering men’s matches, as ex-players are consistently ridiculed for their lack of knowledge of the game and a general theme that they are not worthy to comment when they have not played at a level comparable to the men.

Amid this backdrop of initial negativity, this summer’s Euro 2022 finals in England has been a tournament that even the most eager dissenter has found hard to lambaste.

Several attendance records have been smashed during the Euro 2022 finals and another landmark was reached following the semi-final between Germany and France.

The overall tournament attendance record of 240,055 set at Women’s EURO 2017 in the Netherlands has now been doubled, with last Wednesday’s match bringing the total attendance of this tournament to 487,683.

An estimated 47 per cent of all fans in the stadiums have been female, with a similar fan demographic anticipated for the final.

Now it will all conclude with England hosting Germany tonight in front of 90,000 fans at Wembley in what must be the most significant women’s football match ever played in Europe.

Whatever happens this evening, Euro 2022 has been a breakthrough moment for the women’s game and maybe now the enduring debates that damage the game’s credibility will end.

We need to stop comparing men’s and women’s football and secondly, we need to end the ludicrous and misguided debate over equal pay at club level.

Those who are desperate to raise this issue do so without considering the insanity of their argument and in doing so, they actually damage the cause they are claiming to support.

England’s Women’s Super League is backed by an £8million TV deal, so to suggest players in that competition should be paid the same as male counterparts operating in a Premier League backed by broadcast agreements worth around £8billion-a-year is missing the point.

Simple economics will always override misguided arguments and the moment women’s football has a broadcast deal comparable to men’s football, players will be rewarded accordingly. This is not sexism and those who continue to promote the notion it is are harming the cause they claim to support.

England are favourites to beat Germany tonight in a match expected to be watched by over 10 million as the game is broadcast live on BBC1 in the UK. That magnificent number and not the unhelpful equal pay appeals confirm women’s football is no longer a side show.


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