Calls for men’s football to learn from women after Lionesses’ success

·3-min read

Calls are being made for men’s football to learn from the women’s game and focus on “passion rather than poison” following England’s Euros success.

The Lionesses beat Germany 2-1 at Wembley on Sunday to win the Euros in front of a jubilant crowd, with no reports of any trouble.

The match was a marked contrast to the England’s men’s team defeat to Italy in last year’s final, when chaotic scenes before, during and after the match led to Uefa issuing sanctions on the Football Association.

Deborah Dilworth, women’s game network manager for the Football Supporters’ Association (FSA), said the women’s game tended to attract people who were put off by a “hostile” atmosphere at men’s matches.

Italy v England – UEFA Euro 2020 Final – Wembley Stadium
England fans and police are seen outside of the ground (Zac Goodwin/PA)

She said: “The women’s game has always attracted a crowd which is more inclusive because by its nature it is more focused on passion, rather than poison.

“Men’s football can learn a lot from the women’s game.”

Ms Dilworth said she sat behind fans holding a German flag for Sunday’s match and both sets of fans had applauded the opposing sides.

She added: “It was still an incredible atmosphere and a moment I will never forget.”

Dr David Webber, course leader for football studies at Solent University, said the historic win should give the men’s game an opportunity to reflect.

He said: “I think this is a moment for the men’s game to go ‘hang on, what are we doing, we’ve almost squandered that position of strength we’ve had’.

“The women are showing us how football should be – it should be inclusive, it should be open to all, it should be accessible, we should be seeing young kids, and adults, actively playing.”

He said there was a “toxic masculinity” evident among crowds at England men’s games.

“Not everybody there is there for a dust up and not everybody is there to put a flare up their backside but it does seem to attract that kind of laddish element,” he said.

“It feels like a stag do or an 18-30s holiday.”

Fan Ben Laurens, from Coventry – who attended both the men’s and women’s finals, said the difference between the matches was “night and day”.

In 2021, he said the scenes on the way to the stadium were like “the last days of Rome”.

“There were beer bottles being thrown, there were people climbing lampposts and urinating off lampposts and the crowd were kind of egging it on, it was a scary place to be last year,” he said.

In contrast, the women’s final saw a crowd made up of more families and women, Mr Lauren, 38, said.

He added: “They had an interest in the actual thing, whereas last year there were guys there who didn’t really know what they were doing, or didn’t give the appearance that they had any semblance of sense about them, whereas yesterday they were there for the game.”

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