The international tournament is in 2022.
It began with the men’s AFCON and the dramatic match between Salah and Mane, and it finishes with the contentious World Cup for men in Qatar. The Women’s European Championship is being held in England this month, which is wonderful news for those of us who enjoy having a tournament to obsess about over the summer.
Sixteen teams will be competing for the prize, with Spain and the talented Alexia Putellas the favourites to repeat the Netherlands’ feat of five years ago.
The tournament is surrounded by so many intriguing questions. Can England, who will serve as hosts for a second time, ultimately win a major prize after close calls at the last two World Cups and the 2017 Euros? Can a French squad with this much potential, led by the stars of Lyon and Paris Saint-Germain, win the tournament? Will Germany fail to win at two consecutive Euros for the first time since first qualifying in 1989, a feat made more difficult by being placed in a group containing Spain?
The trophy-delivering manager Sarina Wiegman has left to coach England, and Mark Parsons has taken her place. Parsons tells us he isn’t concerned about the expectations that come with being the reigning champions (and World Cup finalists). Can the Dutch successfully defend their title now that Wiegman has left to coach England? And how will Northern Ireland’s rookies, who just recently become professional, do as they attempt to pull off an upset? Who will emerge as the next stars? How will France spend their time when they are in Ashby-de-la-Zouche for a month?
The Athletic will be there for you every step of the journey to explain what’s important, recognise your successes, explore any unsettling feelings, and examine why things are happening.
With Charlotte Harpur covering the major stories of the tournament, Katie Whyatt’s stunning feature writing, Michael Cox’s tactical analysis, Mark Carey’s data analysis, our daily podcast on the Athletic Women’s Football Podcast feed, or other fascinating angles covered by Nancy Frostick, Flo Lloyd-Hughes, and Art de Roche, as well as outstanding Tifo videos, humans hope to have something for everyone.
People are also excited to share that we will be featuring guest columns from a variety of experts, including Joe Montemurro, manager of Juventus, Jess Fishlock, a midfielder for Wales, Drew Spence, a new signing for Tottenham, Gemma Davison, a former winger for Arsenal and Chelsea, and Ben Mee, a former defender for Burnley.
If you are already a fan of women’s football, we hope you will be anticipating what we have planned, which includes star interviews and profiles with players like the incredible Cristiana Girelli and Ada Hegerberg, stats analysis of the teams involved, in-depth looks at how the sport has changed, the experiences of the Icelandic women who returned from giving birth, and the tale of how Portugal prepared for a tournament with only eight weeks’ notice.
And now is definitely the moment to give women’s football a try if you are one of the individuals who doesn’t watch it frequently or has perhaps been contemptuous of it in the past.
It’s simple to be amazed with Hegerberg’s ball-heading technique.
Or consider Pauline Peyraud-Magnin of France’s magnificent save…
Or the way England’s Lauren Hemp zigzags past defences with amazing elegance and balance (you can read her My Game in My Words piece here).
These players are world-class footballers who compete in matches that will be viewed by millions of spectators. Even writing that statement makes me feel a little bad, but there are still a lot of individuals who can be “won over,” therefore the argument needs to be stated.
These women serve as role models, and a major competing like this, with many sold-out games, offers young girls throughout Europe the chance to see that they do belong in this sport, that spectators are willing to pay to watch, and that dismissive attitudes toward their abilities belong in the past. A number of openly LGBT+ athletes will compete in the tournament, which will give many onlookers who are afraid of being marginalised comfort and hope.
This tournament will have its flaws, just like any sporting tournaments. There are already significant issues regarding why some venues with such small capacities were picked, why the north-east of England was not considered for hosting matches, and the refereeing standards continue to be a source of concern. All of these will be covered by us as well.
But there is a lot to marvel at and enjoy. And we can’t wait to watch the drama unfold in real time.