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England Exults After Women’s Euros Soccer Win


LONDON — For over 50 years, English soccer fans have hoped, prayed and sung that a serious trophy would “come home.” Now it finally has. They usually can hardly contain themselves.

On Monday, pictures of the Lionesses, because the team is understood, dominated the front pages of British newspapers after their 2-1 win over Germany at Wembley Stadium in London, the headlines lauding the brand new European champions as “game changers” or “history makers” and declaring “No more years of hurt.”

Trafalgar Square, the location of an enormous viewing party a day before, was the scene for more jubilation, as 1000’s turned out for a trophy-lifting ceremony with the team.

Many fans arrived in team jerseys, carried England flags and sang “Three Lions” — the song whose “football’s coming home” chorus had come to precise English fans’ craving for a trophy — by heart because the team took to the stage.

“We said we desired to make our legacy about winning and that’s what we did,” said the team’s captain, Leah Williamson, taking in the group’s thunderous applause.

“We’ve modified the sport on this country and hopefully across Europe the world over,” she said.

The group included families and scores of young girls wearing stickers with the hashtag #LetGirlsPlay, trumpeting aspirations for his or her future in a sport that for many years forbade their participation, and still fails to supply equal opportunities despite recent improvements.

“It’s just so exciting for a young woman who grew up playing football seeing them fly so high,” said Savannah Xanthe. 18, who got here to the ceremony wrapped in an English flag together with her two sisters.

“Women don’t get a probability to be taken seriously in soccer,” said Amy Symonds, 33, who plays soccer in Bristol. She said she was shaking with excitement while watching the match yesterday. “This shows what we will do and it should be taken seriously.”

She added that she hoped the victory would bring to the game the eye that it deserved.

“This can be a starting, not an ending,” she said.

Politicians and royals sent messages and congratulations to the team on its victory — a dramatic conclusion that had parallels to England’s last major championship, in 1966, when the country hosted the boys’s World Cup and its team defeated Germany in the ultimate.

However the success held the potential to transcend national pride and euphoria, with women’s soccer occupying the general public consciousness in Britain like never before.

Greater than 600,000 tickets were sold for the European Championship, greater than double the overall for any previous edition of the ladies’s tournament, and the ultimate was the most-watched television program in Britain this yr, in response to the BBC. The broadcaster said the match was seen by a peak audience of 17.4 million, near a 3rd of England’s population, and added that there have been an extra 5.9 million streams online.

“I feel we actually made a change,” said the team’s Dutch coach, Sarina Wiegman, at a news conference after the match on Sunday. The team had done loads for the game but for the role of girls in society, too, she added, a sentiment that was echoed by others.

“It’s been an incredible month and an incredible day yesterday,” said Mark Bullingham, the chief executive of the Football Association, England’s governing body for soccer.

“I feel it can really turbocharge every thing now we have been doing in the ladies’s game,” he said in an interview on “BBC Breakfast” on Monday, adding that the organization had invested heavily in women’s soccer over the past few years.

“There isn’t any reason we shouldn’t have the identical number of women playing as boys and we expect it can create an entire recent generation of heroes who girls aspire to be like,” he said.

The recent shift, while significant, is overdue for a sport that has long tradition of discriminating against women. Top English clubs like Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea have poured tens of millions of dollars into their women’s programs lately, a part of a broader trend of investment across Europe that has seen the continent close the gap with the USA, the longtime global leader in women’s soccer. That type of broad structural support is seen as vital to giving women a system wherein to thrive.

But as things have evolved over the past decade, experts say there remains to be loads of room for improvement.

“That is at a time when public attitudes toward sexism and misogyny are changing, and football needs to alter too,” said Stacey Pope, who heads “Fair Game,” a collective of 34 English soccer clubs that published a report in March that found evidence of a gaping gender divide in soccer clubs throughout England and Wales was keeping the game “within the Dark Ages.”

Only 11.1 percent of board members at Premier League clubs are women, and two-thirds of the league’s teams have all-male boards, the report said. Significantly fewer women were attending games in England compared with other countries.

But a newfound optimism took hold this weekend because the Lionesses emerged victorious on Sunday from a match that was attended by a record variety of fans — the group of greater than 87,000 was the largest for any European Championship final, men or women.

Queen Elizabeth sent a message of congratulations to the team, writing that while the athletes’ performances deserved praise, “your success goes far beyond the trophy you have got so deservedly earned.”

“You’ve gotten all set an example that shall be an inspiration for women and girls today, and for future generations,” she wrote.

Kevin Windsor, a graphic designer in London, watched the match along with his 3-year-old daughter, who was wearing a princess gown. “My daughter doesn’t must have an interest in football. She just has to know that it’s an option,” he wrote on Twitter. “That she will change into anything she sets her little heart on. From a princess to a lioness. And every thing in between.”

Andrew Das contributed reporting.

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