A Bronze for the THREE LIONESSES in Edmonton, Alberta after a 1-0 overtime win over world No. 1 Germany finished an amazing tournament for young 32 year old coach MARK SAMPSON and his team. A Fara Williams penalty after 118 minutes was the difference.
It was the first medals for an England senior team since Alf Ramsey's BOYS OF '66 defeated West Germany 4-2 in extra time with a Geoff Hurst hat-trick at Wembley in FIFA World Cup in 1966. I was lucky enough to be there and jumped over the barrier and into the Royal Box after the ceremony and took the black & white cardboard sign off Her Majesty's velvet chair that stated 'H.M QUEEN'. It was between 'Sir S. Rous' (FIFA President) and 'HRH Prince Philip'.
BELIEVE IT OR NOT, but the FA still banned women's football at that time and it was not for another 25 years that they took it over and gave financial support. This year they sent the squad of 23 plus an equal number of support staff to Canada business class. www.fawsl.com is the 2 tier professional league that they now support financially while the national team players receive around £25,000 each on central contracts. Their league income ranges from £100 a match up to £25,000 a season. OK...that compares with Wayne Rooney's £300,000 WEEKLY Manchester United salary, but The Three Lions donate their England money to charity.
I hope that the ladies get a bonus for their success and MASSIVE PROMOTION and some sort of parade and national tour. In fact NEXT SUNDAY 12th July there is a full schedule of FAWSL matches. I think that I will head for The Academy Stadium, part of the new £30 plus million Manchester City academy across from The Etihad. City v Birmingham City at 2.00 pm with England captain Steph Houghton and half a dozen Lionesses on show.
Some young idiot in The Daily Telegraph stated in here article that the massive media response to the semi-final loss to champions Japan with a late own goal was SEXIST. BOLLOCKS ! It was a story that transcended women's football. I was in the Stadio della Alpi in Turin 25 years ago today when The Three Lions lost to West Germany at ITALIA '90 in the semi-final on pk's. Paul Gascoigne received a yellow in extra time and his tears made world headlines, knowing that he would miss the final if his team made it to Stadio Olimpico in Rome. Such was the nation's passion that 300,000 fans went out to Luton Airport to welcome home their heroes. Gazza made millions and a contract with Lazio and it hastened the beginning of The Premier League.
USA which has had a massive start over most countries with the female game has not always got it right. I was on the very back row of the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA in 1999 when they beat China on penalties after a 0-0 tie on a hot, humid afternoon. Attendance was 90,000. The photo of BRANDI CHASTAIN taking off her shirt after the 5-4 result made the cover of Time, Newsweek. People and Sports Illustrated. The next tournament in 2003, hastily arranged in USA once again after a SARS outbreak in China was won by Germany over Sweden. USA have yet to win again.
On the eve of that tournament the first of three women's league collapsed after spending so much the first year that it only lasted three seasons. The FAWASL has crowds of less than 1,000 on average. This may increase, but by HOW MUCH? USA has MASSIVE crowds for the women's national team with big sponsorship, added to all those college soccer programmes and scholarships. I would say that AT LEAST 20 STATE ASSOCIATIONS 'EACH' have more female players than the whole of England, from Washington State to Southern California to Florida and Massachusetts.
LOTS OF CATCHING UP TO DO. England is now the No.1 UEFA team and should look forward to FIFA Women's World Cup 2019 in FRANCE. A lot easier on the budget for fans with fast TGV trains from Paris to Marseilles in 3 hours. BEFORE THAT we have the 16 team UEFA Women's Cup in 7 stadiums in The Netherlands in 2017. Breda, Deventer, Doetinchem, Rotterdam, Enschede, Tilburg, Utrecht. Anybody for renting a bicycle to get around.