LONDON It has finally returned home.
However, now that England has finally been free to celebrate after winning a significant soccer tournament, it is not the nation’s well-known male players who have graced the front pages, been welcomed by large crowds in the capital, or led the nation in ecstatic song.
Now, supporters, players, and coaches are hoping that the women’s soccer team’s success and the resulting moment of unity will not only put an end to decades of suffering in the nation’s sport but also mark a turning point for women’s soccer both within and outside of the country.
England defeated Germany 2-1 in the European Championship final on Sunday, drawing an attendance record of 87,000 spectators and at least another 17.4 million at home.
When the final whistle blew, the crowd at London’s Wembley Stadium sang Three Lions, a beloved pop song whose aching lyric, “Football’s returning home,” has become a pillar of a national athletic culture that has, up until recently, been viewed as almost wholly male.
Women’s soccer is now receiving more attention than ever because to its multibillion-dollar TV deals, oligarch- and sovereign wealth fund-owned teams, and long-standing underfunding in comparison to the all-conquering men’s game.
England’s victory was a significant turning point, according to Rachel Yankey, the first professional female footballer in Britain and one of her generation’s most accomplished players, who spoke with NBC News.
“Instead of just saying, “Oh, it’s only women’s football,” we need to normalize the sport and treat our female athletes with the same respect as we do our male athletes. The sport that women play is football “She spoke.
That, more than anything else, I believe has transpired at this tournament, she added.
At age 8, Yankey, who made 129 appearances for England, shaved her head and changed her name to “Ray” in order to play on a males’ squad.
According to the Football Association, the organization that governs the sport, just a third of females between the ages of 5 and 18 play soccer every week, and only 63% of English schools give girls the opportunity to play the sport during gym lessons.
Although there is still much to be done, Yankey emphasized that yesterday’s visibility was crucial.
The victory for England will benefit males as well, she added: “It teaches our young lads that ladies can have the same aspirations and pursue the same careers as boys. It empowers our children to have the confidence to pursue their dreams.”
When Chloe Kelly scored the game-winning goal on Sunday, it was a dramatic sight that evoked memories of Brandi Chastain’s celebration for the United States after winning the World Cup in 1999. This was Many fans remarked on social media.