Police investigations launched into abusive online content during Euros, as Lionesses write letter to Tory candidates for more access to football for girls

·5-min read

Over half a dozen police investigations into abusive online content during Euro 2022 are open, UEFA has announced.

Football's governing body said it received hundreds of reports of sexist and homophobic posts on social media, and seven are being investigated by the police.

Around 51% of the flagged content was during the final and 45% was classed as sexist.

Racists and homophobic posts comprised of 2% each.

It comes as the Lionesses have called on the next prime minister to guarantee their commitment to girls and women's football.

England women made history on Sunday, beating Germany 2-1 at Wembley Stadium to lift the Euros - the first time any English football side, men or women, has won a major tournament since 1966.

The triumph was even more extraordinary considering that, until 1971, women and girls were banned from playing football, and it wasn't until 1993 when the Football Association started supporting women financially or logistically.

The players who won the Euros in front of more than 87,000 fans at Wembley - a record for any Euros game - are now calling on Conservative leader candidates Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak to ensure that young girls have access and support to play football at school.

'We also need to support female PE teachers'

In an open letter co-signed by all the members of the squad, the triumphant Lionesses wrote: "Women's football has come a long way. But it still has a long way to go.

"We ask you and your government to ensure that all girls have access to a minimum of 2hrs a week PE.

"Not only should we be offering football to all girls, we also need to invest in and support female PE teachers too.

"We have made incredible strides in the women's game, but this generation of school girls deserve more. This is an opportunity to make a huge difference.

"A change that will impact millions of young girls' lives.

"We - the 23 members of the England Senior Women's Euro squad - ask you to make it a priority to invest into girls' football in schools, so that every girl has the choice."

Read more:
In pictures - England's historic win over Germany in final
The Queen, Spice Girls and Three Lions stars react to win

The letter is backed by the FA, whose director of women's football, Baroness Sue Campbell, said that it is "crucial to capitalise on this historic moment, and we fully support the message of our England players who wish to ensure that girls can play football in every school across the country".

'A lasting impact on women's football'

In response to the letter, both Mr Sunak and Mrs Truss reiterated their commitment to women's sport.

A spokeswoman for Mrs Truss said that the Euro 2022 squad "should be proud of their contribution and the path they have paved for the next generation".

"Liz wants equal access to all sports for boys and girls, and supports campaigns such as the FA's Let Girls Play campaign," the statement said.

"She is committed to investigating what prevents schools from delivering the recommended minimum of two hours PE per week.

"As part of her forthcoming spending review, her government would have the opportunity to look at how best to deliver for girls in schools across the UK."

Mr Sunak's spokesperson said that if he were to become prime minister, he would bid for the women's World Cup, something Ms Truss committed to exploring after the Euro's triumph.

The former cabinet minister said he has been "inspired" by England, and he "wants to use their inspirational success to get more women and girls into the game".

"Rishi passionately believes in the importance of sport for children's development and would love to see all schools provide 2 hours of PE a week," the statement added.

"He has already said that he will tighten the accountability that surrounds the Primary School PE and Sport Premium to make sure children are receiving the education they deserve, and has also said he will ask Ofsted to inspect sport in schools as part of every inspection.

"He has also committed to launch a review of women's football immediately if he is made prime minister to make sure that all women and girls have the opportunity to take part in the beautiful game."

In-depth review into women's football imminent

On 25 April, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport announced that an in-depth review of domestic women's football will be launched, but no date has been confirmed.

It will aim to find ways to close the gap with the men's game at an elite and professional level, as well as at the grassroots.

While the Women's Super League and international women's football has grown in popularity in recent year, culminating in record crowds during the Euros, at the moment, only 63% of girls can play football in PE lessons.

The Lionesses said in their letter that girls are stopped from playing football because of access and according to a survey conducted by Women In Sport in March 2022, more than a million girls lost interest in sports as teenagers.

Subscribe to the Daily podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Spreaker

Before the Euros in June, Romina Calatayud, the founder of Girls United FC, told Sky News that there are only six girls football leagues in London.

She and others called on the upcoming review to look at how grassroots girl's football can grow to the same level as it has for boys.

"The reality is we are inspiring young girls to play football, only for many to end up going to school and not being able to play," the Lionesses wrote.

"This is something that we all experienced growing up. We were often stopped from playing. So we made our own teams, we travelled across the country and despite the odds, we just kept playing football."

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting