Welcome to Moving the Goalposts, the Guardian’s new (and free) women’s football newsletter. Here’s an extract from this week’s edition. To receive the full version once a week, just pop your email in below:
A fascinating group stage of Euro 2022 has come to a close after almost two weeks packed full of football, elation and heartbreak, and everything that goes with it. We have been treated to the women’s game at its best, both with the quality of play and the excellence and vibrance of the fans off it.
People have turned out in historic numbers, not just for the sold-out England matches but elsewhere. The attendance record for a non-host nation match (not including a final) has been broken three times. Fifteen games in, Uefa had surpassed the 240,045 tickets sold in 2017.
I have spent much of the past fortnight among the fans. I have danced with the Dutch and Swedish as a sea of orange and yellow swept through the streets of Sheffield and Leigh; joined in the Icelandic clap in Rotherham; sung non-stop renditions of Sweet Caroline with the English; and visited the impressive German fan bus in Brentford. All bring energy and excitement, engaging the regular follower and those new to the sport. The demographic has been mixed, from the young girl and boy in their England gear to the 60-year-old man shouting tactics at the players from his seat.
This is the crux of it. It has felt like Euro 2022 has been a tournament for everyone, with people travelling from as far as Australia. Some have come as part of official supporters’ groups, others as individuals figuring it out as they go along.
Amalie Bremer, co-founder of the fan club for the Denmark women’s team, made the journey with a large group and they decked out a Brentford pub with paraphernalia. “The experience in England was super great,” she says. “One of the goals of our fan club was to make a more active fan base, to have people singing, drumming and just supporting the team. I really think we did that. We had great togetherness within the Danish fans; we were 1,000 fans from Denmark, travelling to England for each game. And we had such great coherence with the Danish team; I think that was really special and something that I will cherish for a long time.”
Students from across Europe have made the journey to England, choosing to spend their summer consuming as many games as possible. Jennifer Dinges travelled solo from Germany, having wanted an adventure after the pandemic began. She was confident she would meet like-minded people from home and beyond and has made friends along the way. “My first day here, I had three tickets left because three of my friends couldn’t come,” she said. “I just walked into a football store in Manchester and asked the three boys working there if they wanted to come. They were absolutely buzzing about it that they’ve got some tickets out of nowhere. So it was just a really cool spontaneous experience.”
For England fans, the past few weeks have been an opportunity to see not only their team on home soil but Europe’s best talent. For Tara Cheetham, a long-time football fan, the experience has been special. “A home Euros has been unbelievable,” she says. “I think having it so close to your doorstep has just been unreal. Seeing it at stadiums where maybe we haven’t seen women’s football before, and we’ve not visited before, has been a huge plus for me. There’s been such a great atmosphere going around not just England games but the different places that the Euros have been happening. I think having this summer to be able to watch the games is huge … and has been something you’re probably not likely to experience again unless you’re fortunate. For many people, it’s been a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
These are just some of the voices I have heard on my travels. Thousands of people bound by excitement, joy and love for the sport coming together to create a real festival of football.
Ayane sends Morocco to the final Morocco overcame a nine-player Nigeria on penalties to book a place in the 2022 Africa Cup on Nations final in front of 45,562. The look on Tottenham’s Rosella Ayane’s face as she dispatched the winning penalty without realising was priceless. They will face South Africa for the title on Saturday evening.
USA book first Paris 2024 spot The USA narrowly beat Canada to take home the Concacaf W Championship. Alex Morgan’s second-half penalty was the difference as the Vlatko Andonovski’s side booked a place in the 2024 Paris Olympics. Canada will have a second opportunity to qualify when they play Jamaica in a playoff next autumn.
More history for Kerr Sam Kerr has made yet more history by becoming the first woman to appear on the cover of Fifa 23 Ultimate Edition’s global version. The Australia captain and Chelsea striker will feature alongside Paris St Germain’s striker Kylian Mbappé.
Quote of the week
Italy’s coach, Milena Bertolini, after defeat against Belgium saw her side finish bottom of Euro 2022 Group D: “People at home thought this team should win the European championships. They achieved something extraordinary at the World Cup. We are a mid-range team, not a top-class side. I will take all the blame for this exit. I am in charge and in the firing line.”
The latest wonder strike to catch the eye has been this winner from the Netherlands’ Danielle van de Donk. In a chaotic game and with her side on the back, she produced a moment of magic from just outside the box to ensure the victory.