The Lionesses ‘changed the way the country sees women’s football’

England’s historic Euro triumph has changed the way the women’s game is perceived, a former player has claimed, as thousands of fans prepare to celebrate the Lionesses’ victory in central London.

England beat Germany 2-1 after extra time in front of 87,000 fans at Wembley Stadium on Sunday, securing the country’s first major tournament title since 1966.

Midfielder Jill Scott proudly showed off her medal as she left the Hotel de l’Angleterre on Monday morning, telling reporters: “I still have it. I keep it safe.

The final drew a peak TV audience of 17.4million, a record for a women’s football game in the UK, according to overnight audiences published by the BBC.

The previous record was set in England’s 2019 World Cup semi-final loss to the United States, which peaked at 11.7 million.

Up to 7,000 supporters will have the opportunity to join the team at an event hosted by former player Alex Scott in Trafalgar Square from 11am on Monday.

England v Germany - UEFA Women's Euro 2022 - Final - Wembley Stadium
The players celebrate at Wembley (Nigel French/PA)

She told BBC Breakfast: “These Lionesses have raised the bar.

“They changed the way women’s football is perceived in this country.

“The train has left the station and is accelerating.

“It will be tragic to step back from what we witnessed yesterday and throughout the tournament.

“There must be an opportunity for every girl to play football if she wants to.”

The FA’s director of women’s football, Baroness Sue Campbell, said winning England would make a “phenomenal difference”.

She told BBC News: “I think it’s really going to take it to another level. But I think what happened yesterday was much bigger than football.

“I think it will change the perception of women in sport in general, and I hope to give women and girls real optimism that if they want to do anything in life, anything, if they work on it, they will get there.”

Baroness Campbell said she was not surprised by the television audience figures, adding: “I think we have inspired a nation here.

“It’s not just people who are interested in football before. We have a lot of new people who watched the women’s game, and a lot of people who I hope will continue to support and watch the game. feminine.

“But we have also inspired many young people to realize that sport, football, is for them.”

Meanwhile, Football Association chief executive Mark Bullingham has said England’s success will “boost” women’s football there.

“It was an incredible month and an incredible day yesterday,” he told BBC Breakfast.

“I think it will really boost everything we have done in women’s football.

“There’s no reason why we shouldn’t have the same number of girls as boys and that will inspire a whole new generation of players.”

David Baddiel, who recorded the classic football song Three Lions with Frank Skinner and rock band Lightning Seeds in 1996, said he hoped his daughter and children would think of football not as “by default held by men” but as “the same game, played”. by women or played by men.

England v Germany - UEFA Women's Euro 2022 - Final - Wembley Stadium
The Duke of Cambridge joins the celebrations (Danny Lawson/PA)

“But that’s something that I think has only been clarified very, very recently.”

Mr Baddiel added: “It’s the same game, played by women or played by men. And what’s been absolutely great about the past few weeks is the feeling that the country can support him in the same way.

The free entry event in Trafalgar Square is on a first-come, first-served basis, with live music from DJ Monki, a tournament highlights screening and a Q&A involving the players and the manager, Sarina Wiegman, before the trophy was lifted.

It comes after the Queen praised the team, saying their ‘success goes far beyond the trophy’.

Fans watch England v Germany - UEFA Women's Euro 2022 - final
Fans revel in England’s victory (Aaron Chown/PA)

The Duke of Cambridge was among those supporting from the sidelines, and after the game he said it had been “wonderful to see history in the making”, while captain Leah Williamson dubbed it “the moment proudest of my life.”

Fans who attended the match described the team’s victory as a “victory for girls across the country”.

There was a carnival atmosphere as a huge sea of ​​English flags rolled out of the stadium after the game, with fans cheering, blowing horns and singing Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline and Queen’s We Are The Champions.

As the celebrations continue, the Irish Guards Marching Band will play a selection of football music during the Changing of the Guard at 11am.

They will play We Are The Champions, Three Lions, Sweet Caroline and Gold.

Elsewhere, Conservative Party leadership hopeful Rishi Sunak described the Lionesses’ win as a ‘good night’, while Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey told LBC’s Nick Ferrari at the breakfast -lunch: “We were home football and football came home with the Lionesses. I was there with Liz and we had a great time cheering on the Lionesses, who really lifted the spirits of the nation and what a great tournament it was.

“It is essential to ensure that we continue to support women’s football, women’s football, and I think yesterday will really help the professional game while continuing to increase the number of women on the pitch.

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