From distance covered to a surprising history with running: here are 5 facts about the England women's football team
After their historic win against Germany in Sunday’s Euro 2022 final, the England women’s football team are the nation’s heroes. It was the first time in over 50 years that England had won a major football tournament, and the first major win for the women’s team.
Women’s football has been on the rise for the last few years, with the amount of professional and semi-professional players more than doubling between 2013 and 2017. And it’s not just participation that’s sky-rocketing: interest is booming, too, with the average live match audience of the Women’s World Cup increasing by 106%, from 8.4 million in 2015 up to 17.27 million in 2019, according to FIFA.
According to more of FIFA’s numbers, over 13 million women and girls were playing organised football across the world in 2019. Sunday’s win has the power to inspire plenty more young girls in the UK to challenge stereotypes, get involved in football and grow their confidence in sport.
In short, the England women’s win is a big deal for women’s sport. But how much do you know about the Lionesses inspiring a nation? Here are 5 facts that may surprise you…
1. The England women’s football team earned around £67,000 each from the tournament – which would have been less than the men’s team
According to the FA, players are awarded a £2,000 fee for every game in the tournament, plus the every player on the winning team takes home a pre-agreed bonus of £55,000. So anyone on the England team who played in each game will be receive £67,000 for playing and winning the Euros.
The FA states that the £2,000 match fee is identical for men and women. A spokesperson said: “The FA pays its women’s players exactly the same as their male counterparts for representing England, both in terms of match fees and match bonuses. This parity has been in place since January 2020.”
However, reports state that in the 2020 men’s team Euros tournament, where England made it to the finals and were beaten out by Italy on penalties, the huge prize pot would have seen the winners take home £461,000 each.
And with some professional women’s footballers earning less than the UK average income, with £20,000 a year salaries, it’s clear that, financially, there’s still a way to go before women’s football achieves financial parity with the men’s sport.
2. The average footballer runs around 10K in a match
The official stats from the Lionesses’ final match have not been published but, according to a sports facts website, the average premier league level footballer runs 10.14 km per game. Midfielders have a higher average, with around 11.2km per game. Even the goalkeeper will average around 4.3km per game.
3. Lioness Jill Scott nearly became a pro runner
Veteran player Jill Scott was the only Lioness on the team to compete in a major football final twice: she was part of the 2009 European Championships, scoring against the Netherlands to land England a spot in the final. But, before deciding to focus on football, Scott was a long distance runner with the Sunderland Harriers, winning the North of England Under-13 cross-country title and the Junior Great North Run. At the age of 13 she chose to focus on football, and went on to study sport at Loughborough University.
4. Goal scorer Chloe Kelly could have missed the match
24-year-old Chloe Kelly, who scored the winning goal in the last minutes of extra time, spent the year before the tournament recovering from an anterior cruciate ligament tear in her right knee. This meant that Kelly sadly missed out on the Tokyo Olympics, and was not a starter for this year’s Euros team. She only played 200 minutes during the tournament as a substitute, but that 60-minute stint in the final made all the difference to England’s final win, and she’s risen to stardom as a result. She was quick to acknowledge the role that her recovery team had played in getting her to that moment:
“This whole year it’s been tough but throughout it I never gave up, I kept fighting I kept pushing, and I’m grateful for everyone throughout who helped me,” she said.
“This moment wouldn’t have happened without them. It just shows an ACL does not define a player’s career, so if there’s a young girl out there going through an ACL journey, it is tough, but you see the benefits of all the hard work.”
5. Before 1970, women’s football was banned for 50 years
The Lionesses’ recent success has shed light on the history of women’s football, which first became popular in the early 1900s. In 1917, during the first world war, a tournament was launched for female munitions workers, known as The Munitionettes’ Cup. Women’s football became hugely popular, with matches drawing in as many as 53,000-strong crowds, but in 1921 the FA deemed the sport ‘unsuitable’ for women and ‘not to be encouraged’, outlawing women’s games on Association members’ pitches. Despite this ban, women continued to practise football – sometimes using rugby pitches.
It wasn’t until increased interest in football was sparked by the 1966 world cup win that the English Women’s FA was formed in 1969 and, in 1970, the ban was finally lifted.
Thanks to continued drive during the years of the ban, large-scale tournaments like the Women’s World Cup were introduced and the movement continues to grow to this day.